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Presented  to  the 
LIBRARY  of  the 



Hugh  Anson-Cartwright 






\V.    H.    ALLEN    AND    CO. 



{All  Rights  Reserved} 







PARENTAGE     „....,, 


COWAN'S  BRIDGE     .       .       . 

CHILDHOOD     ......'. 


GIRLHOOD  AT  HAWORTH,       .        .     .  . 










THE  RECALL  ....:,..     103, 

THE  PROSPECTUSES.        .        .        .  .        ,        .    xii 


WRITING  POETRY    .        . 12$ 

TROUBLES       .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .        .144 

WUTHERING  HEIGHTS:  ITS  ORIGIN         .        .        .        .154 

WUTHERING  HEIGHTS:  THE  STORY         .        .        .        .168 

'SHIRLEY' 209 

BRANWELL'S  END    .        . 217 


FINIS! •  233 


1857.  LIFE  OF  CHARLOTTE  BRONTE.    Mrs.  GaskelL  \st  and 

2nd  Editions. 

1877.  CHARLOTTE  BRONTE.     T.  Wemyss  Reid. 
1877.  NOTE  ON  CHARLOTTE  BRONTE.    A.  C.  Swinburne. 
1881.  THREE  GREAT  ENGLISHWOMEN.    P.  Bayne. 

MS.  LECTURE  ON  EMILY  BRONTE.    T.  Wemyss  Reid. 

Miss  Ellen  Nussey. 

1879.  REMINISCENCES  OF  THE  BRONTES.    Miss  E.  Nussey. 

ANNE  BRONTE.    Hours  at  Home. 

1872.  BRANWELL  BRONTE:  IN  THE  "MIRROR."  G.S.Phillips. 
1879.  PICTURES  OF  THE  PAST.    F.  H.  Grundy. 


1850.  PREFACE  TO  WUTHERING  HEIGHTS.    Charlotte  Bronte. 

Charlotte  Bronte. 



1879.  HAWORTH  :  PAST  AND  PRESENT.    J".  Horsfall  Turner- 



THERE  are,  perhaps,  few  tests  of  excellence  so  sure 
as  the  popular  verdict  on  a  work  of  art  a  hundred 
years  after  its  accomplishment.  So  much  time  must  be 
allowed  for  the  swing  and  rebound  of  taste,  for  the  de- 
spoiling of  tawdry  splendours  and  to  permit  the  work 
of  art  itself  to  form  a  public  capable  of  appreciating  it. 
Such  marvellous  fragments  reach  us  of  Elizabethan 
praises  ;  and  we  cannot  help  recalling  the  number  of 
copies  of  ( Prometheus  Unbound '  sold  in  the  lifetime  of 
the  poet.  We  know  too  well  "  what  porridge  had  John 
Keats,"  and  remember  with  misgiving  the  turtle  to 
which  we  treated  Hobbs  and  Nobbs  at  dinner,  and  how 
complacently  we  watched  them  put  on  their  laurels 

Let  us,  then,  by  all  means  distrust  our  own  and  the 
public  estimation  of  all  heroes  dead  within  a  hundred 
years.  Let  us,  in  laying  claim  to  an  infallible  verdict, 
remember  how  oddly  our  decisions  sound  at  the  other 
side  of  Time's  whispering  gallery.  Shall  we  therefore 
pronounce  only  on  Chaucer  and  Shakespeare,  on  Gower 
and  our  learned  Ben  ?  Alas  \  we  are  too  sure  of  their 
relative  merits  ;  we  stake  our  reputations  with  no  qualms, 
no  battle-ardours.  These  we  reserve  to  them  for  whom 



the  future  is  not  yet  secure,  for  whom  a  timely  word 
may  still  be  spoken,  for  whom  we  yet  may  feel  that 
lancing  out  of  enthusiasm  only  possible  when  the  cast 
of  fate  is  still  unknown,  and,  as  we  fight,  we  fancy 
that  the  glory  of  our  hero  is  in  our  hands. 

But  very  gradually  the  victory  is  gained.  A  taste  is 
unconsciously  formed  for  the  qualities  necessary  to  the 
next  development  of  art — qualities  which  Blake  in  his 
garret,  Millet  without  the  sou,  set  down  in  immortal 
work.  At  last,  when  the  time  is  ripe,  some  connoisseur 
sees  the  picture,  blows  the  dust  from  the  book,  and 
straightway  blazons  his  discovery.  Mr.  Swinburne,  so 
to  speak,  blew  the  dust  from  '  Wuthering  Heights ';  and 
now  it  keeps  its  proper  rank  in  the  shelf  where  Coleridge 
and  Webster,  Hofmann  and  Leopardi  have  their  place. 
Until  then,  a  few  brave  lines  of  welcome  from  Sydney 
Dobell,  one  fine  verse  of  Mr.  Arnold's,  one  notice  from 
Mr.  Reid,  was  all  the  praise  that  had  been  given  to 
the  book  by  those  in  authority.  Here  and  there  a  mill- 
girl  in  the  West  Riding  factories  read  and  re-read  the 
tattered  copy  from  the  lending  library ;  here  and  there 
some  eager,  unsatisfied,  passionate  child  came  upon  the 
book  and  loved  it,  in  spite  of  chiding,  finding  in  it  an 
imagination  that  satisfied,  and  a  storm  that  cleared  the 
air  ;  or  some  strong-fibred  heart  felt  without  a  shudder 
the  justice  of  that  stern  vision  of  inevitable,  inherited 
ruin  following  the  chance-found  child  of  foreign  sailor 
and  seaport  mother.  But  these  readers  were  not  many  ; 
even  yet  the  book  is  not  popular. 

For,  in  truth,  the  qualities  that  distinguish  Emily 
Bronte  are  not  those  which  are  of  the  first  necessity  to  a 
novelist.  She  is  without  experience  ;  her  range  of  cha- 
racter is  narrow  and  local ;  she  has  no  atmosphere  of 
broad  humanity  like  George  Eliot ;  she  has  not  Jane 


Austen's  happy  gift  of  making  us  love  in  a  book  what 
we  have  overlooked  in  life ;  we  do  not  recognise  in 
her  the  human  truth  and  passion,  the  never-failing 
serene  bitterness  of  humour,  that  have  made  for 
Charlotte  Bronte  a  place  between  Cervantes  and  Victor 

Emily  Bronte  is  of  a  different  class.  Her  imagination 
is  narrower,  but  more  intense ;  she  sees  less,  but  what 
she  sees  is  absolutely  present :  no  writer  has  described 
the  moors,  the  wind,  the  skies,  with  her  passionate 
fidelity,  but  this  is  all  of  Nature  that  she  describes.  Her 
narrow  fervid  nature  accounted  as  simple  annoyance 
the  trivial  scenes  and  personages  touched  with  immortal 
sympathy  and  humour  in  '  Villette '  and  '  Shirley ' ;  Paul 
Emanuel  himself  appeared  to  her  only  as  a  pedantic 
and  exacting  taskmaster ;  but,  on  the  other  hand,. to  a 
certain  class  of  mind,  there  is  nothing  in  fiction  so 
moving  as  the  spectacle  of  Heathcliff  dying  of  joy — 
an  unnatural,  unreal  joy — his  panther  nature  paralysed, 
antanti,  in  a  delirium  of  visionary  bliss. 

Only  an  imagination  of  the  rarest  power  could  con- 
ceive such  a  denouement,  requiting  a  life  of  black 
ingratitude  by  no  mere  common  horrors,  no  vulgar 
Bedlam  frenzy  ;  but  by  the  torturing  apprehension  of  a 
happiness  never  quite  grasped,  always  just  beyond  the 
verge  of  realisation.  Only  an  imagination  of  the  finest 
and  rarest  touch,  absolutely  certain  of  tread  on  that 
path  of  a  single  hair  which  alone  connects  this  world 
with  the  land  of  dreams.  Few  have  trod  that  perilous 
bridge  with  the  fearlessness  of  Emily  Bronte  :  that  is  her 
own  ground  and  there  she  wins  our  highest  praise  ;  but 
place  her  on  the  earth,  ask  her  to  interpret  for  us  the 
common  lives  of  the  surrounding  people,  she  can  give 
no  answer.  The  swift  and  certain  spirit  moves  with 

B  2 


the  clumsy  hesitating  gait  of  a  bird  accustomed  to 

She  tells  us  what  she  saw ;  and  what  she  saw  and 
what  she  was  .incapable  of  seeing  are  equally  cha- 
racteristic. All  the  wildness  of  that  moorland,  all  the 
secrets  of  those  lonely  farms,  all  the  capabilities  of  the 
one  tragedy  of  passion  and  weakness  that  touched  her 
solitary  life,  she  divined  and  appropriated ;  but  not  the 
life  of  the  village  at  her  feet,  not  the  bustle  of  the  mills, 
the  riots,  the  sudden  alternations  of  wealth  and  poverty  ; 
not  the  incessant  rivalry  of  church  and  chapel ;  and 
while  the  West  Riding  has  known  the  prototype  of 
nearly  every  person  and  nearly  every  place  in  'Jane 
Eyre'  and  'Shirley,'  not  a  single  character  in  '  Wuthering 
Heights '  ever  climbed  the  hills  round  Haworth. 

Say  that  two  foreigners  have  passed  through  Stafford- 
shire, leaving  us  their  reports  of  what  they  have  seen. 
The  first,  going  by  day,  will  tell  us  of  the  hideous  black- 
ness of  the  country ;  but  yet  more,  no  doubt,  of  that 
awful,  patient  struggle  of  man  with  fire  and  darkness,  of 
the  grim  courage  of  those  unknown  lives  ;  and  he  would 
see  what  they  toil  for,  women  with  little  children  in  their 
arms ;  and  he  would  notice  the  blue  sky  beyond  the 
smoke,  doubly  precious  for  such  horrible  environment. 
But  the  second  traveller  has  journeyed  through  the  night ; 
neither  squalor  nor  ugliness,  neither  sky  nor  children, 
has  he  seen,  only  a  vast  stretch  of  blackness  shot 
through  with  flaming  fires,  or  here  and  there  burned  ta 
a  dull  red  by  heated  furnaces  ;  and  before  these,  strange 
toilers,  half  naked,  scarcely  human,  and  red  in  the  leap- 
ing flicker  and  gleam  of  the  fire.  The  meaning  of  their 
work  he  could  not  see,  but  a  fearful  and  impressive 
phantasmagoria  of  flame  and  blackness  and  fiery  energies 
at  work  in  the  encompassing  night, 


So  differently  did  the  black  country  of  this  world 
appear  to  Charlotte,  clear-seeing  and  compassionate,  and 
to  Emily  Bronte,  a  traveller  through  the  shadows.  Each 
faithfully  recorded  what  she  saw,  and  the  place  was  the 
.same,  but  how  unlike  the  vision !  The  spectacles  of 
temperament  colour  the  world  very  differently  for  each 
beholder ;  and,  to  understand  the  vision,  we  too  should 
for  a  moment  look  through  the  seer's  glass.  To  gain 
some  such  transient  glance,  to  gain  and  give  some  such 
momentary  insight  into  the  character  of  Emily  Bronte, 
has  been  the  aim  I  have  tried  to  make  in  this  book. 
That  I  have  not  fulfilled  my  desire  is  perhaps  inevitable — 
the  task  has  been  left  too  long.  If  I  have  done  anything 
at  all  I  feel  that  much  of  the  reward  is  due  to  my  many 
and  generous  helpers.  Foremost  among  them  I  must 
thank  Dr.  Ingham,  my  kind  host  at  Haworth,  Mrs.  Wood, 
Mr.  William  Wood,  Mrs.  Brown,  and  Mrs.  Ratcliffe  of 
that  parish — all  of  whom  had  known  the  now  perished 
family  of  Bronte  ;  and  my  thanks  are  due  no  less  to  Mr. 
T.  Wemyss  Reid,  as  will  be  seen  further  on,  to  Mr.  J.  H. 
Ingram,  and  to  Mr.  Biddell,  who  have  collected  much 
valuable  information  for  my  benefit ;  and  most  of  all  do 
I  owe  gratitude  and  thankfulness  to  Miss  Ellen  Nussey, 
without  whose  generous  help  my  work  must  have  re- 
mained most  ignorant  and  astray.  To  her,  had  it  been 
worthier,  had  it  been  all  the  subject  merits,  and  yet 
without  those  shadows  of  gloom  and  trouble  enjoined  by 
the  nature  of  the  story  ;  to  her,  could  I  only  have  spoken  of 
the  high  noble  character  of  Emily  Bronte  and  not  of  the 
great  trials  of  her  life,  I  should  have  ventured  to  dedi- 
cate this  study.  But  to  Emily's  friend  I  only  offer  what, 
through  her,  I  have  learned  of  Emily  ;  she,  who  knew  so 
little  of  Branwell's  shames  and  sorrow  is  unconcerned 
with  this,  their  sad  and  necessary  record.  Only  the 

6  EMIL  Y  BRONT&. 

lights  and  sunshine  of  my  work  I  dedicate  to  her.  It 
may  be  that  I  have  given  too  great  a  share  to  the 
shadows,  to  the  manifold  follies  and  failures  of  Branwell 
Bronte.  Yet  in  Emily  Bronte's  life  the  shaping  influ- 
ences were  so  few,  and  the  sins  of  this  beloved  and 
erring  brother  had  so  large  a  share  in  determining  the 
bent  of  her  genius,  that  to  have  passed  them  by  would 
have  been  to  ignore  the  shock  which  turned  the  fantasy 
of  the  'Poems'  into  the  tragedy  of  'Wuthering  Heights/ 
It  would  have  been  to  leave  untold  the  patience,  the 
courage,  the  unselfishness  which  perfected  Emily  Bronte's 
heroic  character ;  and  to  have  left  her  burdened  with 
the  calumny  of  having  chosen  to  invent  the  crimes  and 
violence  of  her  dramatis  persona.  Not  so,  alas  !  They 
were  but  reflected  from  the  passion  and  sorrow  that 
darkened  her  home  ;  it  was  no  perverse  fancy  which 
drove  that  pure  and  innocent  girl  into  ceaseless  brooding 
on  the  conquering  force  of  sin  and  the  supremacy  of 

She  brooded  over  the  problem  night  and  day  ;  she 
took  its  difficulties  passionately  to  heart ;  in  the  midst 
of  her  troubled  thoughts  she  wrote  '  Wuthering  Heights/ 
From  the  clear  spirit  which  inspires  the  end  of  her  work, 
we  know  that  the  storm  is  over  ;  we  know  that  her  next 
tragedy  would  be  less  violent.  But  we  shall  never  see 
it ;  for — and  it  is  by  this  that  most  of  us  remember  her 
— suddenly  and  silently  she  died. 

She  died,  before  a  single  word  of  worthy  praise  had 
reached  her.  She  died  with  her  work  misunderstood 
and  neglected.  And  yet  not  unhappy.  For  her  home 
on  the  moors  was  very  dear  to  her,  the  least  and  home- 
liest duties  pleasant ;  she  loved  her  sisters  with  devoted 
friendship,  and  she  had  many  little  happinesses  in  her 
patient,  cheerful,  unselfish  life.  Would  that  I  could 


show  her  as  she  was !  —  not  the  austere  and  violent 
poetess  who,  cuckoo-fashion,  has  usurped  her  place  ; 
but  brave  to  fate  and  timid  of  man  ;  stern  to  herself,  for- 
bearing to  all  weak  and  erring  things ;  silent,  yet  some- 
times sparkling  with  happy  sallies.  For  to  represent 
her  as  she  was  would  be  her  noblest  and  most  fitting 



EMILY  BRONTE  was  born  of  parents  without  any  peculiar 
talent  for  literature.  It  is  true  that  her  mother's  letters 
are  precisely  and  prettily  written.  It  is  true  that  her 
father  published  a  few  tracts  and  religious  poems.  But 
in  neither  case  is  there  any  vestige  of  literary  or  poetical 
endowment.  Few,  indeed,  are  the  Parish  Magazines 
which  could  not  show  among  their  contents  poems  and 
articles  greatly  superior  to  the  weak  and  characterless 
effusions  of  the  father  of  the  Brontes.  The  fact  seems 
important;  because  in  this  case  not  one  member  of  a 
family,  but  a  whole  family,  is  endowed  in  more  or  less 
degree  with  faculties  not  derived  from  either  parent. 

For  children  may  inherit  genius  from  parents  who  are 
themselves  not  gifted,  as  two  streaming  currents  of  air 
unite  to  form  a  liquid  with  properties  different  from 
either  ;  and  never  is  biography  more  valuable  than  when 
it  allows  us  to  perceive  by  what  combination  of  allied 
qualities,  friction  of  opposing  temperaments,  recurrence 
of  ancestral  traits,  the  subtle  thing  we  call  character  is 
determined.  In  this  case,  since,  as  I  have  said,  the 
whole  family  manifested  a  brilliance  not  to  be  found. in 
either  parent,  such  a  study  would  be  peculiarly  interest- 
ing. But,  unfortunately,  the  history  of  the  children's 
father  and  the  constitution  of  the  children's  mother  is 
all  that  is  clear  to  our  investigation. 


.Yet  even  out  of  this  very  short  pedigree  two  important 
factors  of  genius  declare  themselves — two  potent  and 
shaping  inheritances.  From  their  father,  Currer,  Ellis, 
and  Acton  derived  a  strong  will.  From  their  mother, 
the  disease  that  slew  Emily  and  Anne  in  the  prime 
of  their  youth  and  made  Charlotte  always  delicate  and 
ailing.  In  both  cases  the  boy,  Patrick  Branwell,  was 
very  slightly  affected ;  but  he  too  died  young,  from 
excesses  that  suggest  a  taint  of  insanity  in  his  con- 

Insanity  and  genius  stand  on  either  side  consumption, 
its  worse  and  better  angels.  Let  none  call  it  impious 
or  absurd  to  rank  the  greatest  gift  to  mankind  as  the 
occasional  result  of  an  inherited  tendency  to  tubercular 
disease.  There  are  of  course  very  many  other  deter- 
mining causes  ;  yet  is  it  certain  that  inherited  scrofula 
or  phthisis  may  come  out,  not  in  these  diseases,  or  not 
only  in  these  diseases,  but  in  an  alteration,  for  better  or 
for  worse,  of  the  condition  of  the  mind.  Out  of  evil  good 
may  come,  or  a  worse  evil. 

The  children's  father  was  a  nervous,  irritable  and 
violent  man,  who  endowed  them  with  a  nervous  organisa- 
tion easily  disturbed  and  an  indomitable  force  of  volition. 
The  girls,  at  least,  showed  both  these  characteristics. 
Patrick  Branwell  must  have  been  a  weaker,  more  bril- 
liant, more  violent,  less  tenacious,  less  upright  copy  of 
his  father ;  and  seems  to  have  suffered  no  modification 
from  the  patient  and  steadfast  moral  nature  of  his 
mother.  She  was  the  model  that  her  daughters  copied, 
in  different  degrees,  both  in  character  and  healthy 
Passion  and  will  their  father  gave  them.  Their  genius 
•came  directly  from  neither  parent ;  but  from  the  con- 
stitution of  their  natures. 

In  addition,  on  both  sides,  the  children  got  a  Celtic 


strain ;  and  this  is  a  matter  of  significance,  meaning  a. 
predisposition  to  the  superstition,  imagination  and  horror 
that  is  a  strand  in  all  their  work.  Their  mother,  Maria 
Branwell,  was  of  a  good  middle-class  Cornish  family, 
long  established  as  merchants  in  Penzance.  Their  father 
was  the  son  of  an  Irish  peasant,  Hugh  Prunty,  settled  in 
the  north  of  Ireland,  but  native  to  the  south. 

The  history  of  the  Rev.  Patrick  Bronte,  B.A.  (whose 
fine  Greek  name,  shortened  from  the  ancient  Irish  appel- 
lation of  Bronterre,  was  so  na'fvely  admired  by  his  chil- 
dren), is  itself  a  remarkable  and  interesting  story. 

The  Reverend  Patrick  Bronte  was  one  of  the  ten  chil- 
dren of  a  peasant  proprietor  at  Ahaderg  in  county  Down. 
The  family  to  which  he  belonged  inherited  strength, 
good  looks,  and  a  few  scant  acres  of  potato-growing 
soil.  ^  They  must  have  been  very  poor,  those  ten  chil- 
dren, often  hungry,  cold  and  wet ;  but  these  adverse 
influences  only  seemed  to  brace  the  sinews  of  Patrick 
Prunty  and  to  nerve  his  determination  to  rise  above  his 
surroundings.  He  grew  up  a  tall  and  strong  young 
fellow,  unusually  handsome  with  a  well-shaped  head, 
regular  profile  and  fine  blue  eyes.  A  vivacious  impres- 
sible manner  effectually  masked  a  certain  selfishness 
and  rigour  of  temperament  which  became  plain  in 
after  years.  He  seemed  a  generous,  quick,  impulsive 
lad.  When  he  was  sixteen  years  of  age  Patrick  left  his 
father's  roof  resolved  to  earn  a  position  for  himself.  At 
Drumgooland,  a  neighbouring  hamlet,  he  opened  what 
is  called  in  Ireland  a  public  school ;  a  sort  of  hedge- 
school  for  village  children.  He  stuck  to  his  trade  for 
five  or  six  years,  using  his  leisure  to  perfect  himself  in 
general  knowledge,  mathematics,  and  a  smattering  of 
Greek  and  Latin. 

His  efforts  deserved  to  be  crowned  with  success.    The 


Rev.  Mr.  Tighe,  the  clergyman  of  the  parish,  was  so 
struck  with  Patrick  Prunty's  determination  and  ability 
that  he  advised  him  to  try  for  admittance  at  one  of  the 
English  universities ;  and  when  the  young  man  was 
about  five-and-twenty  he  went,  with  Mr.  Tighe's  help, 
to  Cambridge,  and  entered  at  St.  John's. 

He  left  Ireland  in  July,  1802,  never  to  visit  it  again. 
He  never  cared  to  look  again  on  the  scenes  of  his  early 
struggle.  He  never  found  the  means  to  revisit  mother 
or  home,  friends  or  country.  Between  Patrick  Bronte, 
proud  of  his  Greek  profile  and  his  Greek  name,  the 
handsome  undergraduate  at  St.  John's,  and  the  nine 
shoeless,  hungry  young  Pruntys  of  Ahaderg,  there 
stretched  a  distance  not  to  be  measured  by  miles.. 
Under  his  warm  and  passionate  exterior  a  fixed  resolu- 
tion to  get  on  in  the  world  was  hidden ;  but,  though 
cold,  the  young  man  was  just  and  self-denying,  and  as 
long  as  his  mother  lived  she  received  twenty  pounds  a 
year,  spared  with  difficulty  from  his  narrow  income. 

Patrick  Bronte  stayed  four  years  at  Cambridge  ;  when 
he  left  he  had  dropped  his  Irish  accent  and  taken  his 
B.A.  On  leaving  St.  John's  he  was  ordained  to  a  curacy 
in  Essex. 

The  young  man's  energy,  of  the  sort  that  only  toils  to 
reach  a  given  personal  end,  had  carried  him  far  on  the 
way  to  success.  At  twenty  hedge-schoolmaster  at  Drum- 
gooland,  Patrick  Bronte  was  at  thirty  a  respectable 
clergyman  of  the  Church  of  England,  with  an  assured 
position  and  respectable  clerical  acquaintance.  He  was 
getting  very  near  the  goal. 

He  did  not  stay  long  in  Essex.  A  better  curacy  was 
offered  to  him  at  Hartshead,  a  little  village  between 
Huddersfield  and  Halifax  in  Yorkshire.  While  he  was 
at  Hartshead  the  handsome  inflammable  Irish  curate 

1 2  E,MIL  Y  BRONTE. 

.met  Maria  Branwell  at  her  uncle's  parsonage  near  Leeds. 
It  was  not  the  first  time  that  Patrick  Bronte  had  fallen 
in  love ;  people  in  the  neighbourhood  used  to  smile  at 
.his  facility  for  adoration,  and  thought  it  of  a  piece  with 
his  enthusiastic  character.  They  were  quite  right ;  in 
his  strange  nature  the  violence  and  the  coldness  were 
•equally  genuine,  both  being  a  means  to  gratify  some 
personal  ambition,  desire,  or  indolence.  It  is  not  an 
uncommon  Irish  type  ;  self-important,  upright,  honour- 
able, yet  with  a  bent  towards  subtlety:  abstemious  in 
habit,  but  with  freaks  of  violent  self-indulgence  ;  courteous 
and  impulsive  towards  strangers,  though  cold  to  members 
•of  the  household  ;  naturally  violent,  and  often  assuming 
violence  as  an  instrument  of  authority ;  selfish  and 
dutiful ;  passionate,  and  devoid  of  intense  affection. 

Miss  Branwell  was  precisely  the  little  person  with 
whom  it  was  natural  that  such  a  man,  a  self-made  man, 
.should  fall  in  love.  She  was  very  small,  quiet  and 
gentle,  not  exactly  pretty,  but  elegant  and  ladylike. 
•She  was,  indeed,  a  well-educated  young  lady  of  good 
connections ;  a  very  Phoenix  she  must  have  seemed  in 
the  eyes  of  a  lover  conscious  of  a  background  of  Pruntyism 
and  potatoes.  She  was  about  twenty-one  and  he  thirty- 
»five  when  they  first  met  in  the  early  summer  of  1812. 
They  were  engaged  in  August.  Miss  Bran  well's  letters 
.reveal  a  quiet  intensity  of  devotion,  a  faculty  of  judg- 
ment, a  willingness  to  forgive  passing  slights  that  must 
have  satisfied  the  absolute  and  critical  temper  of  her 
Jover.  Under  the  devotion  and  the  quietness  there  is, 
however,  the  note  of  an  independent  spirit,  and  the 
following  extract,  with  its  capability  of  self-reliance  and 
desire  to  rely  upon  another,  reminds  one  curiously  of 
passages  in  her  daughter  Charlotte's  writings  : — 

"  For  some  years  I  have  been  perfectly  my  own  mis- 


tress,  subject  to  no  control  whatever ;  so  far  from  it  that 
my  sisters,  who  are  many  years  older  than  myself,  and 
even  my  dear  mother  used  to  consult  me  on  every 
occasion  of  importance,  and  scarcely  ever  doubted  the 
propriety  of  my  words  and  actions  :  perhaps  you  will  be 
ready  to  accuse  me  of  vanity  in  mentioning  this,  but 
you  must  consider  that  I  do  not  boast  of  it.  I  have 
many  times  felt  it  a  disadvantage,  and  although,  I 
thank  God,  it  has  never  led  me  into  error,  yet  in  circum- 
stances of  uncertainty  and  doubt  I  have  deeply  felt  the 
want  of  a  guide  and  instructor." 

Years  afterwards,  when  Maria  Branwell's  letters  were 
given  into  the  hands  of  her  daughter  Charlotte  and  that 
daughter's  most  dear  and  faithful  friend,  the  two  young 
women  felt  a  keen  pang  of  retrospective  sympathy  for 
the  gentle  independent  little  person  who,  even  before  her 
marriage,  had  time  to  perceive  that  her  guide  and  in- 
structor was  not  the  infallible  Mentor  she  had  thought 
him  at  the  first.  I  quote  the  words  of  Charlotte's  friend, 
of  more  authority  and  weight  on  this  matter  than  those 
of  any  other  person  living,  taken  from  a  manuscript 
which  she  has  placed  at  my  disposal : — 

"  Miss  Branwell's  letters  showed  that  her  engagement, 
though  not  a  prolonged  one,  was  not  as  happy  as  it 
ought  to  have  been.  There  was  a  pathos  of  apprehen- 
sion (though  gently  expressed)  in  part  of  the  corre- 
spondence lest  Mr.  Bronte  should  cool  in  his  affection 
towards  her,  and  the  readers  perceived  with  some  in- 
dignation that  there  had  been  a  just  cause  for  this 
apprehension.  Mr.  Bronte,  with  all  his  iron  strength 
and  power  of  will,  had  his  weakness,  and  one  which, 
wherever  it  exists,  spoils  and  debases  the  character — he 
had  personal  vanity.  Miss  Branwell's  finer  nature  rose 
above  such  weakness  ;  but  she  suffered  all  the  more  from- 


evidences  of  it  in  one  to  whom  she  had  given  her  affec- 
tions and  whom  she  was  longing  to  look  up  to  in  all 

On  the  29th  of  December,  1812,  this  disillusioned, 
loving  little  lady  was  married  to  Patrick  Bronte,  from 
her  uncle's  parsonage  near  Leeds.  The  young  couple 
took  up  their  abode  at  Hartshead,  Mr.  Bronte's  curacy. 
Three  years  afterwards  they  moved,  with  two  little 
baby  girls,  Maria  and  Elizabeth,  to  a  better  living  at 
Thornton.  The  country  round  is  desolate  and  bleak  ; 
great  winds  go  sweeping  by ;  young  Mrs.  Bronte,  whose 
husband  generally  sat  alone  in  his  study,  would  have 
missed  her  cheerful  home  in  sunny  Penzance  (being 
delicate  and  prone  to  superstition),  but  that  she  was  a 
patient  and  uncomplaining  woman,  and  she  had  scant 
time  for  thought  among  her  many  cares  for  the  thick- 
coming  little  lives  that  peopled  her  Yorkshire  home. 
In  1816  Charlotte  Bronte  was  born.  In  the  next  year 
Patrick  Branwell.  In  1818  Emily  Jane.  In  1819  Anne. 
Then  the  health  of  their  delicate  and  consumptive 
mother  began  to  break.  After  seven  years'  marriage 
and  with  six  young  children,  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Bronte 
moved  on  the  2$th  of  February,  1820,  to  their  new  home 
.at  Haworth  Vicarage. 

The  village  of  Haworth  stands,  steep  and  grey,  on  the 
topmost  side  of  an  abrupt  low  hill.  Such  hills,  more 
steep  than  high,  are  congregated  round,  circle  beyond 
circle,  to  the  utmost  limit  of  the  horizon.  Not  a  wood, 
not  a  river.  As  far  as  eye  can  reach  these  treeless  hills, 
their  sides  cut  into  fields  by  grey  walls  of  stone,  with 
here  and  there  a  grey  stone  village,  and  here  and  there 
a  grey  stone  mill,  present  no  other  colours  than  the 
singular  north-country  brilliance  of  the  green  grass,  and 
the  blackish  grey  of  the  stone.  Now  and  then  a  top- 


pling,  gurgling  mill-beck  gives  life  to  the  scene.  But 
the  real  life,  the  only  beauty  of  the  country,  is  set  on  the 
top  of  all  the  hills,  where  moor  joins  moor  from  York- 
shire into  Lancashire,  a  coiled  chain  of  wild  free  places. 
White  with  snow  in  winter,  black  at  midsummer,  it  is 
only  when  spring  dapples  the  dark  heather-stems  with 
the  vivid  green  of  the  sprouting  wortleberry  bushes, 
only  when  in  early  autumn  the  moors  are  one  humming 
mass  of  fragrant  purple,  that  any  beauty  of  tint  lights 
up  the  scene.  But  there  is  always  a  charm  in  the 
moors  for  hardy  and  solitary  spirits.  Between  them  and 
heaven  nothing  dares  to  interpose.  The  shadows  of  the 
coursing  clouds  alter  the  aspect  of  the  place  a  hundred 
times  a  day.  A  hundred  little  springs  and  streams  well 
in  its  soil,  making  spots  of  livid  greenness  round  their 
rise.  A  hundred  birds  of  every  kind  are  flying  and 
singing  there.  Larks  sing ;  cuckoos  call ;  all  the  tribes 
of  linnets  and  finches  twitter  in  the  bushes ;  plovers 
moan  ;  wild  ducks  fly  past ;  more  melancholy  than  all, 
on  stormy  days,  the  white  sea-mews  cry,  blown  so  far 
inland  by  the  force  of  the  gales  that  sweep  irresistibly 
over  the  treeless  and  houseless  moors.  There  in  the 
spring  you  may  take  in  your  hands  the  weak,  halting 
fledgelings  of  the  birds  ;  rabbits  and  game  multiply  in 
the  hollows.  There  in  the  autumn  the  crowds  of  bees, 
mad  in  the  heather,  send  the  sound  of  their  humming 
down  the  village  street.  The  winds,  the  clouds,  Nature 
.and  life,  must  be  the  friends  of  those  who  would  love 
the  moors. 

But  young  Mrs.  Bronte  never  could  go  on  the  moors. 
She  was  frail  and  weak,  poor  woman,  when  she  came  to 
live  in  the  oblong  grey  stone  parsonage  on  the  windy 
top  of  the  hill.  The  village  ran  sheer  down  at  her  feet ; 
but  she  could  not  walk  down  the  steep  rough-paven 


street,  nor  on  the  pathless  moors.  She  was  very  ill  and 
weak  ;  her  husband  spent  nearly  all  his  time  in  the 
study,  writing  his  poems,  his  tracts,  and  his  sermons. 
She  had  no  companions  but  the  children.  And  when, 
in  a  very  few  months,  she  found  that  she  was  sickening 
of  a  cancer,  she  could  not  bear  to  see  much  of  the 
children  that  she  must  leave  so  soon. 

Who  dare  say  if  that  marriage  was  happy  ?  Mrs. 
Gaskell,  writing  in  the  life  and  for  the  eyes  of  Mr.  Bronte, 
speaks  of  his  unwearied  care,  his  devotion  in  the  night- 
nursing.  But  before  that  fatal  illness  was  declared,  she 
lets  fall  many  a  hint  of  the  young  wife's  loneliness 
during  her  husband's  lengthy,  ineffectual  studies  ;  of  her 
patient  suffering  of  his  violent  temper.  She  does  not 
say,  but  we  may  suppose,  with  what  inward  pleasure 
Mrs.  Bronte  witnessed  her  favourite  silk  dress  cut  into 
shreds  because  her  husband's  pride  did  not  choose  that 
she  should  accept  a  gift ;  or  watched  the  children's 
coloured  shoes  thrown  on  the  fire,  with  no  money  in  her 
purse  to  get  new  ones  ;  or  listened  to  her  husband's  cavil 
at  the  too  frequent  arrival  of  his  children  ;  or  heard  the 
firing  of  his  pistol-shots  at  the  out-house  doors,  the 
necessary  vent  of  a  passion  not  to  be  wreaked  in  words. 
She  was  patient,  brave,  lonely,  and  silent.  But  Mr. 
Wemyss  Reid,  who  has  had  unexampled  facilities  for 
studying  the  Bronte  papers,  does  not  scruple  to  speak 
of  Mr.  Bronte's  "persistent  coldness  and  neglect"  of 
his  wife,  his  "  stern  and  peremptory  "  dealings  with  her, 
of  her  "  habitual  dread  of  her  lordly  master  " ;  and  the 
manuscript  which  I  have  once  already^quoTeoTalludes  to 
the  "hard  and  inflexible  will  which  raised  itself  some- 
times into  tyranny  and  cruelty."  It  is  within  the  cha- 
racter of  the  man  that  all  this  should  be  true.  Safely 
wed,  the  woman  to  whom  he  had  made  hot  love  would 


experience  no  more  of  his  impulsive  tenderness.  He 
had  provided  for  her  and  done  his  duty  ;  her  duty  was 
to  be  at  hand  when  he  needed  her.  Yet,  imminent 
death  once  declared,  all  his  uprightness,  his  sense  of 
honour,  would  call  on  him  to  be  careful  to  the  creature 
he  had  vowed  to  love  and  cherish,  all  his  selfishness 
would  oblige  him  to  try  and  preserve  the  mother  of  six 
little  children  under  seven  years  of  age.  "  They  kept 
themselves  very  close,"  the  village  people  said  ;  and  at 
least  in  this  last  illness  the  husband  and  wife  were 
frequently  together.  Their  love  for  each  other,  new 
revived  and  soon  to  clos.e,  seemed  to  exclude  any 
thought  of  the  children.  We  hear  expressly  that  Mr. 
Bronte,  from  natural  disinclination,  and  Mrs.  Bronte,  from 
fear  of  agitation,  saw  very  little  of  the  small  earnest 
babies  who  talked  politics  together  in  the  "children's 
study,"  or  toddled  hand  in  hand  over  the  neighbouring 

Meanwhile  the  young  mother  grew  weaker  day  by 
day,  suffering  great  pain  and  often  unable  to  move. 
But  repining  never  passed  her  lips.  Perhaps  she  did 
not  repine.  Perhaps  she  did  not  grieve  to  quit  her 
harassed  life,  the  children  she  so  seldom  saw,  her  con- 
stant pain,  the  husband  "not  dramatic  enough  in  his 
perceptions  to  see  how  miserable  others  might  be  in  a 
life  that  to  him  was  all-sufficient."  *  For  some  months 
she  lay  still,  asking  sometimes  to  be  lifted  in  bed  that 
she  might  watch  the  nurse  cleaning  the  grate,  be- 
cause she  did  it  as  they  did  in  Cornwall.  For  some 
months  she  suffered  more  and  more.  In  September, 

1821,  she  died. 

*  Mrs.  Gaskell. 




AFTER  his  wife's  death  the  Rev.  Mr.  Bronte's  life  grew 
yet  more  secluded  from  ordinary  human  interests.  He 
was  not  intimate  with  his  parishioners ;  scarcely  more 
intimate  with  his  children.  He  was  proud  of  them 
when  they  said  anything  clever,  for,  in  spite  of  their 
babyhood,  he  felt  at  such  moments  that  they  were  worthy 
of  their  father ;  but  their  forlorn  infancy,  their  helpless 
ignorance,  was  no  appeal  to  his  heart.  Some  months 
before  his  wife's  death  he  had  begun  to  take  his  dinner 
alone,  on  account  of  his  delicate  digestion  ;  and  he  con- 
tinued the  habit,  seeing  the  children  seldom  except  at 
breakfast  and  tea,  when  he  would  amuse  the  elders  by 
talking  Tory  politics  with  them,  and  entertain  the  baby, 
Emily,  with  his  Irish  tales  of  violence  and  horror.  Per- 
haps on  account  of  this  very  aloofness,  he  always  had  a 
great  influence  over  the  children  ;  he  did  not  care  for 
any  dearer  relation. 

His  empty  days  were  filled  with  occasional  visits  to 
some  sick  person  in  the  village ;  with  long  walks  alone 
over  the  moors,  and  with  the  composition  of  his  '  Cottage 
in  the  Wood '  and  those  grandiloquent  sermons  which 
still  linger  in  the  memory  of  Haworth.  Occasionally  a 
clergyman  from  one  of  the  neighbouring  villages  would 
walk  over  to  see  him ;  but  as  Mrs.  Bronte  had  died  so 
soon  after  her  arrival  at  Haworth  their  wives  never 


came,  and  the  Bronte  children  had  no  playfellows  in  the 
vicarages  near  ;  nor  were  they  allowed  to  associate  with 
the  village  children. 

This  dull  routine  life  suited  Mr.  Bronte.  He  had 
laboured  for  many  years  and  now  he  took  his  repose. 
We  get  no  further  sign  of  the  impatient  energies  of  his 
youth.  He  had  changed,  developed  ;  even  as  those 
sea-creatures  develop,  who,  having  in  their  youth  fins, 
eyes  and  sensitive  feelers,  become,  when  once  they  find 
their  resting-place,  motionlessly  attached  to  it,  losing 
-one  after  the  other,  sight,  movement,  and  even  sensation, 
everything  but  the  faculty  to  adhere. 

Meanwhile  the  children  were  left  alone.  For  sym- 
pathy and  amusement  they  only  had  each  other  to 
look  to ;  and  never  were  brother  and  sisters  more  de- 
voted. Maria,  the  eldest,  took  care  of  them  all — she 
was  an  old-fashioned,  motherly  little  girl ;  frail  and 
small  in  appearance,  with  thoughtful,  tender  ways.  She 
was  very  careful  of  her  five  little  ones,  this  seven-year- 
old  mother  of  theirs,  and  never  seems  to  have  exerted 
the  somewhat  tyrannic  authority  usually  wielded  by 
such  youthful  guardians.  Indeed,  for  all  her  seniority, 
she  was  the  untidy  one  of  the  family  herself;  it  was 
.against  her  own  faults  only  that  she  was  severe.  She 
must  have  been  a  very  attaching  little  creature,  with  her 
childish  delinquencies  and  her  womanly  cares  ;  protect- 
ing her  little  family  with  gentle  love  and  discussing  the 
debates  in  Parliament  with  her  father.  Charlotte  re- 
membered her  to  the  end  of  her  life  with  passionate 
clinging  affection  and  has  left  us  her  portrait  in  the 
pathetic  figure  of  Helen  Burns. 

This  delicate,  weak-chested  child  of  seven  was  the 
head  of  the  nursery.  Then  came  Elizabeth,  less  clearly 
individualised  in  her  sisters'  memory.  She  also  bore  in 

C  2 



her  tiny  body  the  seeds  of  fatal  consumption.  Next 
came  impetuous  Charlotte,  always  small  and  pale. 
Then  red-headed,  talkative  Patrick  Branwell.  Lastly 
Emily  and  Anne,  mere  babies,  toddling  with  difficulty 
over  the  paven  path  to  the  moors. 

Such  a  family  demanded  the  closest  care,  the  most 
exact  attention.  This  was  perhaps  impossible  on  an 
income  of  £200  a  year,  when  the  mother  lay  upstairs 
dying  of  a  disease  that  required  constant  nursing.  Still 
the  conditions  of  the  Brontes'  youth  were  unnecessarily 
unhealthy.  It  could  not  be  helped  that  these  delicate 
children  should  live  on  the  bleak  wind-swept  hill  where 
consumption  is  even  now  a  scourge ;  it  could  not  be 
helped  that  their  home  was  bounded  on  two  sides  by 
the  village  graveyard  ;  it  could  not  be  helped  that  they 
were  left  without  a  mother  in  their  babyhood ;  but 
never,  short  of  neglect,  were  delicate  children  less  con- 

The  little  ones,  familiar  with  serious  illness  in  the 
house,  expected  small  indulgence.  They  were  accustomed 
to  think  nothing  so  necessary  as  that  they  should  amuse 
themselves  in  quiet,  and  keep  out  of  the  way.  The 
lesson  learned  so  young  remained  in  the  minds  of  the 
five  sisters  all  their  lives.  From  their  infancy  they  were 
retired  and  good  ;  it  was  only  Patrick  Branwell  who 
sometimes  showed  his  masculine  independence  by  a 
burst  of  natural  naughtiness.  They  were  the  quietest 
of  children  by  nature  and  necessity.  The  rooms  at 
Haworth  Parsonage  were  small  and  few.  There  were 
in  front  two  moderate-sized  parlours  looking  on  the 
garden,  hat  on  the  right  being  Mr.  Bronte's  study,  and 
the  larger  one  opposite  the  family  sitting-room.  Behind 
these  was  a  sort  of  empty  store-room  and  the  kitchens. 
On  the  first  floor  there  was  a  servants'-room,  where  the 


two  servants  slept,  over  the  back  premises ;  and  a  bed- 
room over  each  of  the  parlours.  Between  these  and  over 
the  entrance  passage  was  a  tiny  slip  of  a  room,  scarcely 
larger  than  a  linen-closet,  scarcely  wider  than  the  doorway 
and  the  window-frame  that  faced  each  other  at  either  end. 
During  the  last  months  of  Mrs.  Bronte's  illness,  when  it 
became  necessary  that  she  should  have  a  bedroom  to 
herself,  all  the  five  little  girls  were  put  to  sleep  in  this 
small  and  draughty  closet,  formerly  the  children's  study. 
There  can  scarcely  have  been  room  to  creep  between  their 
beds.  Very  quiet  they  must  have  been  ;  for  any  childish 
play  would  have  disturbed  the  dying  mother  on  the  one 
side,  and  the  anxious  irritable  father  on  the  other.  And 
all  over  the  house  they  must  keep  the  same  hushed  calm, 
since  the  low  stone-floored  rooms  would  echo  any  noise. 
Very  probably  they  were  not  unhappy  children  for  all 
their  quietness.  They  enjoyed  the  most  absolute  freedom, 
dearest  possession  of  childhood.  When  they  were  tired 
of  reading  the  papers  (they  seemed  to  have  had  no  chil- 
dren's books),  or  of  discussing  the  rival  merits  of  Bona- 
parte and  the  Duke  of  Wellington,  they  were  free  to  go 
along  the  paven  way  over  the  three  fields  at  the  back, 
till  the  last  steyle-hole  in  the  last  stone  wall  let  them 
through  on  to  the  wide  and  solitary  moors.  There  in  all 
weathers  they  might  be  found  ;  there  they  passed  their 
happiest  hours,  uncontrolled  as  the  birds  overhead. 

One  rule  seems  to  have  been  made  by  their  father  for 
the  management  of  these  precocious  children  with  their 
consumptive  taint,  with  their  mother  dying  of  cancer — 
that  one  rule  of  Mr.  Bronte's  making,  still  preserved  to 
us,  is  that  the  children  should  eat  no  meat.  The  Rev. 
Patrick  Bronte,  B.A.,  had  grown  to  heroic  proportions  on 
potatoes  ;  he  knew  no  reason  why  his  children  should 
fare  differently. 


The  children  never  grumbled  ;  so  Mrs.  Bronte's  sick- 
nurse  told  Mrs.  Gaskell : 

"You  would  not  have  known  there  was  a  child  in 
the  house,  they  were  such  still,  noiseless,  good  little 
creatures.  Maria  would  shut  herself  up  in  the  chil- 
dren's study  with  a  newspaper  and  be  able  to  tell  one 
everything  when  she  came  out ;  debates  in  Parliament, 
and  I  don't  know  what  all.  She  was  as  good  as 
a  mother  to  her  sisters  and  brother.  But  there  never 
were  such  good  children.  I  used  to  think  them  spirit- 
less, they  were  so  different  to  any  children  I  had  ever 
seen.  In  part,  I  set  it  down  to  a  fancy  Mr.  Bronte  had 
of  not  letting  them  have  flesh-meat  to  eat.  It  was  from 
no  wish  for  saving,  for  there  was  plenty  and  even  waste 
in  the  house,  with  young  servants  and  no  mistress  to  see 
after  them ;  but  he  thought  that  children  should  be 
brought  up  simply  and  hardily :  so  they  had  nothing 
but  potatoes  for  their  dinner ;  but  they  never  seemed  to 
wish  for  anything  else.  They  were  good  little  creatures. 
Emily  was  the  prettiest." 

This  pretty  Emily  of  two  years  old  was  no  mother's 
constant  joy.  That  early  shaping  tenderness,  those  re- 
curring associations  of  reverent  love,  must  be  always 
missing  in  her  memories.  Remembering  her  earliest 
childhood,  she  would  recall  a  constant  necessity  of  keep- 
ing joys  and  sorrows  quiet,  not  letting  others  hear ;  she 
would  recall  the  equal  love  of  children  for  each  other, 
the  love  of  the  only  five  children  she  knew  in  all  the 
world ;  the  free  wide  moors  where  she  might  go  as  she 
pleased,  and  where  the  rabbits  played  and  the  moor- 
game  ran  and  the  wild  birds  sang  and  flew. 

Mrs.  Bronte's  death  can  have  made  no  great  difference 
to  any  of  her  children  save  Maria,  who  had  been  her 
constant  companion  at  Thornton;  friendly  and  helpful 


as  a  little  maiden  of  six  can  be  to  the  worried,  delicate 
mother  of  many  babies.  Emily  and  Anne  would  barely 
remember  her  at  all.  Charlotte  could  only  just  recall  the 
image  of  her  mother  playing  with  Patrick  Branwell  one 
twilight  afternoon.  An  empty  room,  a  cessation  of  accus- 
tomed business,  their  mother's  death  can  have  meant 
little  more  than  that  to  the  younger  children. 

For  about  a  year  they  were  left  entirely  to  their  own 
devices,  and  to  the  rough  care  of  kind-hearted,  busy 
servants.  They  devised  plays  about  great  men,  read 
the  newspapers,  and  worshipped  the  Duke  of  Wellington, 
strolled  over  the  moors  at  their  own  sweet  will,  knowing 
and  caring  absolutely  for  no  creature  outside  the  walls 
of  their  own  home.  To  these  free,  hardy,  independent 
little  creatures  Mr.  Bronte  announced  one  morning  that 
their  maiden  aunt  from  Cornwall,  their  mother's  eldest 
sister,  was  coming  to  superintend  their  education. 

"Miss  Branweli  was  a  very  small,  antiquated  little 
lady.  She  wore  caps  large  enough  for  half-a-dozen  of 
the  present  fashion,  and  a  front  of  light  auburn  curls 
over  her  forehead.  She  always  dressed  in  silk.  She 
had  a  horror  of  the  climate  so  far  north,  and  of  the 
stone  floors  in  the  Parsonage.  .  .  .  She  talked  a  great 
deal  of  her  younger  days— the  gaieties  of  her  dear  native 
town  Penzance,  the  soft,  warm  climate,  &c.  She  gave 
one  the  idea  that  she  had  been  a  belle  among  her  own 
home  acquaintance.  She  took  snuff  out  of  a  very  pretty 
gold  snuff-box,  which  she  sometimes  presented  to  you 
with  a  little  laugh,  as  if  she  enjoyed  the  slight  shock  of 
astonishment  visible  in  your  countenance.  .  .  .  She  would 
be  very  lively  and  intelligent,  and  tilt  arguments  against 
Mr.  Bronte  without  fear." 

So  Miss  Ellen  Nussey  recalls  the  elderly,  prim  Miss 
Branwell  about  ten  years  later  than  her  first  arrival  i» 


Yorkshire.  But  it  is  always  said  of  her  that  she  changed 
very  little.  Miss  Nussey's  striking  picture  will  pretty 
accurately  represent  the  maiden  lady  of  forty,  who,  from 
a  stringent  and  noble  sense  of  duty,  left  her  southern, 
pleasant  home  to  take  care  of  the  little  orphans  running 
wild  at  Haworth  Parsonage.  It  is  easy  to  imagine  with 
what  horrified  astonishment  aunt  and  nieces  must  have 
regarded  each  others'  peculiarities. 

It  was,  no  doubt,  an  estimable  advantage  for  the 
children  to  have  some  related  lady  in  authority  over 
them.  Henceforth  their  time  was  no  longer  free  for 
their  own  disposal.  They  said  lessons  to  their  father, 
they  did  sewing  with  their  aunt,  and  learned  from  her 
all  housewifely  duties.  The  advantage  would  have  been 
a  blessing  had  their  aunt  been  a  woman  of  sweet-natured, 
motherly  turn  ;  but  the  change  from  perfect  freedom  to 
her  old-maidish  discipline  was  not  easy  to  bear — a  bitter 
good,  a  strengthening  but  disagreeable  tonic,  making  the 
children  yet  less  expansive,  yet  more  self-contained  and 
silent.  Patrick  Branwell  was  the  favourite  with  his 
aunt,  the  naughty,  clever,  brilliant,  rebellious,  affec- 
tionate Patrick.  Next  to  him  she  always  preferred 
the  pretty,  gentle  baby  Anne,  with  her  sweet,  clinging 
ways,  her  ready  submission,  her  large  blue  eyes  and 
clear  pink-and-white  complexion.  Charlotte,  impulsive, 
obstinate  and  plain,  the  rugged,  dogged  Emily,  were 
not  framed  to  be  favourites  with  her.  Many  a  fierce 
tussle  of  wills,  many  a  grim  listening  to  over-frivolous 
reminiscence,  must  have  shown  the  aunt  and  her  nieces 
the  difference  of  their  natures.  Maria,  too,  the  whilom 
head  of  the  nursery,  must  have  found  submission  hard ; 
but  hers  was  a  singularly  sweet  and  modest  nature.  Of 
Elizabeth  but  little  is  remembered. 

Mr.  Bronte,  now  that  the  children  were  growing  out 


of  babyhood,  seems  to  have  taken  a  certain  pride  in 
them.  Probably  their  daily  lessons  showed  him  the 
-character  and  talent  hidden  under  those  pale  and  grave 
little  countenances.  In  a  letter  to  Mrs.  Gaskell  he 
recounts  instances  of  their  early  talent.  More  home- 
loving  fathers  will  smile  at  the  simple  yet  theatric  means 
'he  took  to  discover  the  secret  of  his  children's  real  dis- 
positions. 'Twas  a  characteristic  inspiration,  worthy  the 
originator  of  the  ancient  name  of  Bronte.  A  certain 
simplicity  of  confidence  in  his  own  subtlety  gives  a 
^piquant  flavour  to  the  manner  of  telling  the  tale  : — 

"A  circumstance  now  occurs  to  my  mind  which  I 
*may  as  well  mention.  When  my  children  were  very 
young,  when,  as  far  as  I  can  remember,  the  eldest  was 
.about  ten  years  of  age  and  the  youngest  four,  thinking 
that  they  knew  more  than  I  had  yet  discovered,  in  order 
>to  make  them  speak  with  less  timidity,  I  deemed  that  if 
they  were  put  under  a  sort  of  cover  I  might  gain  my 
end  ;  and  happening  to  have  a  mask  in  the  house  I  told 
them  all  to  stand  and  speak  boldly  from  under  cover  of 
the  mask. 

"  I  began  with  the  youngest  (Anne,  afterwards  Acton 
Bell),  and  asked  what  a  child  like  her  most  wanted  ; 
she  answered,  '  Age  and  experience.'  I  asked  the  next 
•  (Emily,  afterwards  Ellis  Bell)  what  I  had  best  do  with 
her  brother  Branwell,  who  sometimes  was  a  naughty 
boy  ;  she  answered,  (  Reason  with  him  ;  and  when  he 
won't  listen  to  reason  whip  him.'  I  asked  Branwell 
what  was  the  best  way  of  knowing  the  difference  be- 
tween the  intellects  of  men  and  women  ;  he  answered, 
'By  considering  the  difference  between  them  as  to  their 
bodies.'  I  then  asked  Charlotte  what  was  the  best  book 
in  the  world  ;  she  answered,  '  The  Bible.'  And  what  was 
:the  next  best;  she  answered,  'The  book  of  Nature.'  I 


then  asked  the  next  (Elizabeth,  who  seems  to  have  taken-. 
Miss  Bran  well's  teaching  to  heart)  what  was  the  best 
mode  of  education  for  a  woman  ;  she  answered,  *  That 
which  would  make  her  rule  her  house  well.'  Lastly, 
I  asked  the  oldest  what  was  the  best  mode  of  spending 
time  ;  she  answered,  '  By  laying  it  out  in  preparation  for 
a  happy  eternity.'  I  may  not  have  given  precisely  their 
words,  but  I  have  nearly  done  so,  as  they  have  made 
a  deep  and  lasting  impression  on  my  memory.  The 
substance,  however,  was  exactly  what  I  have  stated." 

The  severely  practical  character  of  Emily's  answer  is 
a  relief  from  the  unchildish  philosophy  of  Branwell, 
Maria,  and  the  baby.  A  child  of  four  years  old  who 
prefers  age  and  experience  to  a  tartlet  and  some  sweets 
must  be  an  unnatural  product.  But  the  Brontes  seem 
to  have  had  no  childhood ;  unlimited  discussion  of 
debates,  long  walks  without  any  playfellows,  the  free 
perusal  of  Methodist  magazines,  this  is  the  pabulum 
of  their  infancy.  Years  after,  when  they  asked  some 
school-children  to  tea,  the  clergyman's  young  daughters 
had  to  ask  their  little  scholars  to  teach  them  how  to 
play.  It  was  the  first  time  they  had  ever  cared  to  try. 

What  their  childhood  had  really  taught  them  was  the 
value  of  their  father's  quaint  experiment.  They  learned 
to  speak  boldly  from  under  a  mask.  Restrained,  en- 
forcedly quiet,  assuming  a  demure  appearance  to  cloak 
their  passionate  little  hearts,  the  five  sisters  never  spoke 
their  inmost  mind  in  look,  word,  or  gesture.  They  saved 
the  leisure  in  which  they  could  not  play  to  make  up 
histories,  dramas,  and  fairy  tales,  in  which  each  let  loose, 
without  noise,  without  fear  of  check,  the  fancies  they 
never  tried  to  put  into  action  as  other  children  are 
wont  to.  Charlotte  wrote  tales  of  heroism  and  adven- 
ture. Emily  cared  more  for  fairy  tales,  wild,  unnatural*, 


strange  fancies,  suggested  no  doubt  in  some  degree  by 
her  father's  weird  Irish  stories.  Already  in  her  nursery 
the  peculiar  bent  of  her  genius  took  shape. 

Meanwhile  the  regular  outer  life  went  on — the  early 
rising,  the  dusting  and  pudding-making,  the  lessons  said 
to  their  father,  the  daily  portion  of  sewing  accomplished 
in  Miss  Bran  well's  bedroom,  because  that  lady  grew 
more  and  more  to  dislike  the  flagged  flooring  of  the 
sitting-room.  Every  day,  some  hour  snatched  for  a 
ramble  on  the  moors ;  peaceful  times  in  summer  when 
the  little  girls  took  their  sewing  under  the  stunted 
thorns  and  currants  in  the  garden,  the  clicking  sound 
of  Miss  Branwell's  pattens  indistinctly  heard  within. 
Happy  times  when  six  children,  all  in  all  to  each  other,, 
told  wonderful  stories  in  low  voices  for  their  own  en- 
trancement.  Then,  one  spring,  illness  in  the  house  ;  the 
children  suffering  a  complication  of  measles  and  whoop- 
ing-cough. They  never  had  such  happy  times  again,, 
for  it  was  thought  better  that  the  two  elders  should  go 
away  after  their  sickness ;  should  get  their  change  of 
air  at  some  good  school.  Mr.  Bronte  made  inquiries 
and  heard  of  an  institution  established  for  clergymen's 
daughters  at  Cowan's  Bridge,  a  village  on  the  high  road 
between  Leeds  and  Kendal.  After  some  demurring  the 
school  authorities  consented  to  receive  the  children,  now 
free  from  infection,  though  still  delicate  and  needing  care. 
Thither  Mr.  Bronte  took  Maria  and  Elizabeth  in  the 
July  of  1824.  Emily  and  Charlotte  followed  in  Sep- 




•*'  IT  was  in  the  year  1823  that  the  school  for  clergymen's 
•daughters  was  first  projected.  The  place  was  only  then 
contemplated  as  desirable  in  itself,  and  as  a  place  which 
might  probably  be  feasible  at  some  distant  day.  The 
-mention  of  it,  however,  to  only  two  friends  in  the  South 
having  met  with  their  warm  approbation  and  a  remit- 
tance of  .£70,  an  opening  seemed  to  be  made  for  the 
commencement  of  the  work. 

"  With  this  sum  in  hand,  in  a  reliance  upon  Him  who 
has  all  hearts  at  his  disposal,  and  to  whom  belong  the 
silver  and  the  gold,  the  premises  at  Cowan's  Bridge  were 
purchased,  the  necessary  repairs  and  additions  proceeded 
with,  and  the  school  was  furnished  and  opened  in  the 
spring  of  1824.  The  whole  expense  of  the  purchase  and 
outfit  amounted  to  ^2333  ijs.  gd. 

"  The  scanty  provision  of  a  large  portion  of  the  clergy 
of  the  Established  Church  has  long  been  a  source  of 
regret ;  and  very  efficient  means  have  been  adopted  in 
various  ways  to  remedy  it.  The  sole  object  of  the 
Clergy  Daughters'  School  is  to  add,  in  its  measure,  to 
these  means,  by  placing  a  good  female  education  within 
reach  of  the  poorest  clergy.  And  by  them  the  season- 
able aid  thus  afforded  has  been  duly  appreciated.  The 
anxiety  and  toil  which  necessarily  attend  the  manage- 
ment of  such  an  institution  have  been  abundantly  repaid 


by  the  gratitude  which  has  been  manifested  among  the 
parents  of  the  pupils. 

"  It  has  been  a  very  gratifying  circumstance  that  the 
Clergy  Daughters'  School  has  been  enabled  to  follow  up- 
the  design  of  somewhat  kindred  institutions  in  London. 
Pupils  have  come  to  it  as  apprentices  from  the  Corpora- 
tion of  the  Sons  of  the  Clergy  ;  and  likewise  from  the 
Clergy  Orphan  School,  in  which  the  education  is  of  a 
limited  nature  and  the  pupils  are  not  allowed  to  remain 
after  the  age  of  sixteen. 

"  The  school  is  situated  in  the  parish  of  Tunstall,  or* 
the  turnpike  road  from  Leeds  to  Kendal,  between  which 
towns  a  coach  runs  daily,  and  about  two  miles  from 
the  town  of  Kirkby  Lonsdale. 

"Each  pupil  pays  £14  a  year  (half  in  advance)  for 
clothing,  lodging,  boarding,  and  educating  ;  £  i  entrance 
towards  the  expense  of  books,  and  ^3  entrance  for 
pelisses,  frocks,  bonnets,  &c.j  which  they  wear  all  alike.* 
So  that  the  first  payment  which  a  pupil  is  required  to 
bring  with  her  is  £  1 1  ;  and  the  subsequent  half-yearly 
payment  £7.  If  French,  music,  or  drawing  is  learnt,  £3 
a  year  additional  is  paid  for  each  of  these. 

"  The  education  is  directed  according  to  the  capacities 
of  the  pupils  and  the  wishes  of  their  friends.  In  all  cases^ 
the  great  object  in  view  is  their  intellectual  and  religious 
improvement ;  and  to  give  that  plain  and  useful  educa- 
tion which  may  best  fit  them  to  return  with  respectability 
and  advantage  to  their  own  homes  ;  or  to  maintain  them- 
selves in  the  different  stations  of  life  to  which  Providence 
may  call  them." 

Here  comes  some  explanation  of  the 

treasurer's  accounts.  Then  the  report  recommences : — 

*  It  is  very  much  wished  that  the  pupils  should  wear  only  their 
school  dress  during  the  vacations. 


"  Low  as  the  terms  are,  it  has  been  distressing  to  dis- 
cover that  in  many  cases  clergymen  who  have  applied  on 
behalf  of  their  daughters  have  been  unable  to  avail  them- 
selves of  the  benefits  of  the  school  from  the  inadequacy 
•of  their  means  to  raise  the  required  payments. 

The  projectors'  object  will  not  be  fully  realised  until 
the  means  are  afforded  of  reducing  the  terms  still  lower, 
in  extreme  cases,  at  the  discretion  of  the  committee. 
And  he  trusts  that  the  time  will  arrive  when,  either  by 
legacies  or  otherwise,  the  school  may  be  placed  within 
the  reach  of  those  of  the  clergy  for  whom  it  is  specially 
intended — namely,  the  most  destitute. 

"  The  school  is  open  to  the  whole  kingdom.  Donors 
.and  subscribers  gain  the  first  attention  in  the  recom- 
mendation of  pupils ;  and  the  only  inquiry  made  upon 
applications  for  admission  is  into  the  really  necessitous 
circumstances  of  the  applicant. 

"  There  are  now  ninety  pupils  in  the  school  (the  number 
that  can  be  accommodated)  and  several  are  waiting  for 

"  The  school  is  under  the  care  of  Mrs.  Harben,  as 
superintendent,  eight  teachers,  and  two  under-teachers. 

"  To  God  belongs  the  glory  of  the  degree  of  success 
which  has  attended  this  undertaking,  and  which  has  far 
exceeded  the  most  sanguine  expectations.  But  the 
expression  of  very  grateful  acknowledgment  must  not 
be  wanting  towards  the  many  benefactors  who  have  so 
readily  and  so  bountifully  rendered  their  assistance. 
They  have  their  recompense  in  the  constant  prayers 
which  are  offered  up  from  many  a  thankful  heart  for  all 
who  support  this  institution." 

Thus  excellently  and  moderately  runs  the  fourth  year's 
report  of  the  philanthropic  Gymnase  Moronval,  evange- 
lical Dotheboys  Hall,  familiar  to  readers  of  'Jane  Eyre. 


When  these  congratulations  were  set  in  type,  those 
horrors  of  starvation,  cruelty,  and  fever  were  all  accom- 
plished which  brought  death  to  many  children,  and  to 
those  that  lived  an  embittering  remembrance  of  wrong. 
The  two  Bronte  girls  who  survived  their  school  days 
brought  from  them  a  deep  distrust  of  human  kindness,  a 
difficult  belief  in  sincere  affection,  not  natural  to  their 
warm  and  passionate  spirits.  They  brought  away  yet 
more  enfeebled  bodies,  prone  to  disease ;  they  brought 
away  the  memory  of  two  dear  sisters  dead.  "  To  God 
be  the  glory,"  says  the  report.  Rather,  let  us  pray,  to 
the  Rev.  William  Carus  Wilson. 

The  report  quoted  above  was  issued  six  years  after 
the  autumn  in  which  the  little  Brontes  were  sent  to 
Cowan's  Bridge  ;  it  was  not  known  then  in  what  terms 
one  of  those  pale  little  girls  would  thank  her  benefactors, 
would  speak  of  her  advantages.  She  spoke  at  last,  and 
generations  of  readers  have  held  as  filthy  rags  the 
righteousness  of  that  institution,  thousands  of  charitable 
hearts  have  beat  high  with  indignation  at  the  philan- 
thropic vanity  which  would  save  its  own  soul  by  the 
sufferings  of  little  children's  tender  bodies.  Yet  by  an 
odd  anomaly  this  ogre  benefactor,  this  Brocklehurst, 
must  have  been  a  zealous  and  self-sacrificing  enthusiast, 
with  all  his  goodness  spoiled  by  an  imperious  love  of 
authority,  an  extravagant  conceit. 

It  was  in  the  first  year  of  the  school  that  the  little 
Bronte  girls  left  their  home  on  the  moors  for  Cowan's 
Bridge.  It  was  natural  that  as  yet  many  things  should 
go  wrong  and  grate  in  the  unperfected  order  of  the 
house ;  equally  natural  that  the  children  should  fail  to 
make  excuses  :  poor  little  prisoners  pent,  shivering  and 
.starved,  in  an  unkind  as)>lum  from  friends  and  liberty. 

The  school,  long  and  low,  more  like  an  unpretending 


farmhouse  than  an  institution,  forms  two  sides  of  art 
oblong.  The  back  windows  look  out  on  a  flat  garden 
about  seventy  yards  across.  Part  of  the  house  was- 
originally  a  cottage  ;  the  longer  part  a  disused  bobbin- 
mill,  once  turned  by  the  stream  which  runs  at  the  side 
of  the  damp,  small  garden.  The  ground  floor  was 
turned  into  schoolrooms,  the  dormitories  were  above, 
the  dining-room  and  the  teachers'-room  were  in  the 
cottage  at  the  end.  All  the  rooms  were  paved  with 
stone,  low-ceiled,  small-windowed ;  not  such  as  are  built 
for  growing  children,  working  in  large  classes  together. 
No  board  of  managers  would  permit  the  poorest  children 
of  our  London  streets  to  work  in  such  ill-ventilated 

The  bobbin-mill,  not  built  for  habitation,  was,  no  doubt,, 
faulty  and  insufficient  in  drainage.  The  situation  of  the 
house,  chosen  for  its  nearness  to  the  stream,  was  damp 
and  cold,  on  a  bleak,  unsheltered  plain,  picturesque 
enough  in  summer  with  the  green  alders  overhanging 
the  babbling  beck,  but  in  winter  bitter  chill.  In  this 
dreary  house  of  machines,  the  place  of  the  ousted  wheels 
and  springs  was  taken  by  ninety  hungry,  growing  little 
human  beings,  all  dressed  alike  in  the  coarse,  ill-fitting 
garments  of  charity,  all  taught  to  look,  speak,  and  think 
alike,  all  commended  or  held  up  to  reprobation  according 
as  they  resembled  or  diverged  from  the  machines  whose 
room  they  occupied  and  whose  regular,  thoughtless 
movement  was  the  model  of  their  life. 

These  children  chiefly  owed  their  excellent  education,, 
their  miserable  food  and  lodging,  to  the  exertions  of  a 
rich  clergyman  from  Willingdon,  the  nearest  village. 
The  Rev.  Carus  Wilson  was  a  person  of  importance  in 
the  neighbourhood  ;  a  person  who  was  looked  to  in, 
emergencies,  who  prided  himself  on  his  prudence,  fore- 


sight,  and  efficiency  in  helping  others.  With  this,  none 
the  less  a  man  of  real  and  zealous  desire  to  do  good,  an 
energetic,  sentient  person  capable  of  seeing  evils  and 
devising  remedies.  He  wished  to  help  :  he  wished  no 
less  that  it  should  be  known  he  had  helped.  Pitying  the 
miserable  conditions  of  many  of  his  fellow-workers,  he 
did  not  rest  till  he  had  founded  a  school  where  the 
daughters  of  the  poor  clergy  should  receive  a  fair  educa- 
tion at  a  nominal  price.  When  the  money  for  the  school 
was  forthcoming,  the  property  was  vested  in  twelve 
trustees  ;  Mr.  Wilson  was  one.  He  was  also  treasurer 
and  secretary.  Nearly  all  the  work,  the  power,  the  super- 
vision, the  authority  of  the  affair,  he  took  upon  his 
shoulders.  He  was  not  afraid  of  work,  and  he  loved 
power.  He  would  manage,  he  would  be  overseer,  he 
would  guide,  arrange,  and  counsel.  So  sure  did  he  feel 
of  his  capacity  to  move  all  springs  himself,  that  he 
seems  to  have  exercised  little  pains  and  less  discretion  in 
appointing  his  subordinates.  Good  fortune  sent  him  a 
gentle,  wise,  and  noble  woman  as  superintendent ;  but 
the  other  teachers  were  less  capable,  some  snappish,  some 
without  authority.  The  housekeeper,  who  should  have 
been  chosen  with  the  greatest  care,  since  in  her  hands 
lay  the  whole  management  and  preparation  of  the  food 
of  these  growing  children,  was  a  slovenly,  wasteful 
woman,  taken  from  Mr.  Wilson's  kitchen,  and  much  be- 
lieved in  by  himself.  Nevertheless  to  her  door  must  we 
lay  much  of  the  misery  of  "  Lowood." 

The  funds  were  small  and  somewhat  uncertain. 
Honour  and  necessity  alike  compelled  a  certain  economy. 
Mr.  Wilson  contracted  for  the  meat,  flour,  and  milk,  and 
frequently  himself  inspected  the  supplies.  But  perhaps 
he  did  not  inspect  the  kitchen.  The  "  Lowood  "  scholars 
had  many  tales  to  tell  of  milk  turned  sour  in  dirty  pans  ; 



of  burnt  porridge  with  disgusting  fragments  in  it  from 
uncleanly  cooking  vessels  ;  of  rice  boiled  in  water  from 
the  rain-cask,  flavoured  with  dead  leaves,  and  the  dust 
of  the  roof;  of  beef  salted  when  already  tainted  by  de- 
composition ;  of  horrible  resurrection-pies  made  of  un- 
appetising scraps  and  rancid  fat.  The  meat,  flour,  milk 
and  rice  were  doubtless  good  enough  when  Mr.  Wilson 
saw  them,  but  the  starved  little  school-girls  with  their 
disappointed  hunger  had  neither  the  courage  to  complain 
nor  the  impartiality  to  excuse.  For  the  rest,  it  was  not 
easy  to  complain  to  Mr  Wilson.  His  sour  evangelicism 
led  him  to  the  same  conclusion  as  the  avarice  of  a  less 
disinterested  Yorkshire  schoolmaster ;  he  would  have 
bade  them  conquer  human  nature.  Being  a  very 
proud  man,  he  sought  to  cultivate  humility  in  others. 
The  children  were  all  dressed  alike,  all  wearing  in 
summer  plain  straw  cottage  bonnets,  white  frocks  on 
Sundays  and  nankeen  in  the  week  ;  all  wearing  in  winter 
purple  stuff  frocks  and  purple  pelisses — a  serviceable 
and  appropriate  raiment  which  should  allow  no  envies, 
jealousies,  or  flatteries.  They  should  not  be  vain, 
neither  should  they  be  greedy.  A  request  for  nicer- 
tasting  food  would  have  branded  the  asker  with  the 
lasting  contempt  of  the  Rev.  William  Carus  Wilson, 
trustee,  treasurer,  and  secretary.  They  were  to  learn 
that  it  was  wrong  to  like  pretty  things  to  wear,  nice 
things  to  eat,  pleasant  games  to  play ;  these  little 
scholars  taken  half  on  charity.  Mr.  Wilson  was  repulsed 
by  the  apple-and-pegtop  side  of  a  child's  nature ;  he 
deliberately  ignored  it. 

Once  in  this  grim,  cold,  hungry  house  of  charity,  there 
was  little  hope  of  escape.  All  letters  and  parcels  were 
inspected  by  the  superintendent ;  no  friends  of  the 
pupils  were  allowed  in  the  school,  except  for  a  short  call 


of  ceremony.  But  it  is  probable  that  Maria  and  Eliza- 
beth, sent  on  before,  had  no  thought  of  warning  their 
smaller  sisters.  So  destitute  of  all  experience  were  they, 
that  probably  they  imagined  all  schools  like  Cowan's 
Bridge  ;  so  anxious  to  learn,  that  no  doubt  they  willingly 
accepted  the  cold,  hunger,  deliberate  unkindness,  which 
made  their  childhood  anxious  and  old. 

The  lot  fell  heaviest  on  the  elder  sister,  clever,  gentle, 
slovenly  Maria.  The  principal  lesson  taught  at  Cowan's 
Bridge  was  the  value  of  routine. 

Maria,  with  her  careless  ways,  ready  opinions,  gentle 
loving  incapacity  to  become  a  machine,  Maria  was  at 
discord  with  every  principle  of  Cowan's  Bridge.  She 
incurred  the  bitter  resentment  of  one  of  the  teachers, 
who  sought  all  means  of  humiliating  and  mortifying  the 
sweet-natured,  shiftless  little  creature.  When,  in  Sep- 
tember, bright,  talkative  Charlotte  and  baby  Emily  came 
to  Cowan's  Bridge,  they  found  their  idolised  little  mother, 
their  Maria,  the  butt,  laughingstock  and  scapegrace  of 
the  school. 

Things  were  better  for  the  two  younger  ones,  Char- 
lotte, a  bright  clever  little  girl,  and  Emily,  the  prettiest 
of  the  little  sisters,  "  a  darling  child,  under  five  years  of 
age,  quite  the  pet  nursling  of  the  school."  *  But  though 
at  first,  no  doubt,  these  two  babies  were  pleased  by  the 
change  of  scene  and  the  companionship  of  children, 
trouble  was  to  befall  them.  Not  the  mere  distasteful 
scantiness  of  their  food,  the  mere  cold  of  their  bodies ; 
they  saw  their  elder  sister  grow  thinner,  paler  day  by 
day,  no  care  taken  of  her,  no  indulgence  made  for  her 
weakness.  The  poor  ill-used,  ill-nourished  child  grew 
very  ill  without  complaining ;  but  at  last  even  the 
-authorities  at  Cowan's  Bridge  perceived  that  she  was 

*  Mrs.  Harben  to  Mrs.  Gaskell. 

D  2 


dying.  They  sent  for  Mr.  Bronte  in  the  spring  of  1825. 
He  had  not  heard  of  her  illness  in  any  of  his  children's 
letters,  duly  inspected  by  the  superintendent.  He  had 
heard  no  tales  of  poor  food,  damp  rooms,  neglect.  He 
came  to  Cowan's  Bridge  and  saw  Maria,  his  clever  little 
companion,  thin,  wasted,  dying.  The  poor  father  felt 
a  terrible  shock.  He  took  her  home  with  him,  away 
from  the  three  little  sisters  who  strained  their  eyes  to 
look  after  her.  She  went  home  to  Haworth.  A  few 
days  afterwards  she  died. 

Not  many  weeks  after  Maria's  death,  when  the  spring 
made  Lowood  bearable,  when  the  three  saddened  little 
sisters  no  longer  waked  at  night  for  the  cold,  no  longer 
lame  with  bleeding  feet,  could  walk  in  the  sunshine 
and  pick  flowers,  when  April  grew  into  May,  an  epidemic 
of  sickness  came  over  Cowan's  Bridge.  The  girls  one 
by  one  grew  weak  and  heavy,  neither  scolding  nor  texts 
roused  them  now ;  instead  of  spending  their  play-hours 
in  games  in  the  sweet  spring  air,  instead  of  picking 
flowers  or  running  races,  these  growing  children  grew 
all  languid,  flaccid,  indolent.  There  was  no  stirring 
them  to  work  or  play.  Increasing  illness  among  the 
girls  made  even  their  callous  guardians  anxious  at  last. 
Elizabeth  Bronte  was  one  of  the  first  to  flag.  It  was 
not  the  fever  that  ailed  her,  the  mysterious  undeclared 
fever  that  brooded  over  the  house  ;  her  frequent  cough, 
brave  spirits,  clear  colour  pointed  to  another  goaL 
They  sent  her  home  in  the  care  of  a  servant ;  and  before 
the  summer  flushed  the  scanty  borders  of  flowers  on  the 
newest  graves  in  Haworth  churchyard,  Elizabeth  Bronte 
was  dead,  no  more  to  hunger,  freeze,  or  sorrow.  Her 
hard  life  of  ten  years  was  over.  The  second  of  the 
Bronte  sisters  had  fallen  a  victim  to  consumption. 

Discipline  was  suddenly  relaxed  for  those  remaining 


behind  at  Cowan's  Bridge.  There  was  more  to  eat,  for 
there  were  fewer  mouths  to  feed  ;  there  was  more  time 
to  play  and  walk,  for  there  were  none  to  watch  and 
restrain  the  eager  children,  who  played,  eat,  shouted,  ran 
riot,  with  a  certain  sense  of  relief,  although  they  knew 
they  were  only  free  because  death  was  in  the  house  and 
pestilence  in  the  air. 

The  woody  hollow  of  Cowan's  Bridge  was  foggy,  un- 
wholesome, damp.  The  scholars  underfed,  cramped, 
neglected.  Their  strange  indolence  and  heaviness  grew 
stronger  and  stronger  with  the  spring.  All  at  once 
forty-five  out  of  the  eighty  girls  lay  sick  of  typhus-fever. 
Many  were  sent  home  only  to  die,  some  died  at  Cowan's 
Bridge.  All  that  could,  sent  for  their  children  home. 
Among  the  few  who  stayed  in  the  fever-breeding  hollow, 
in  the  contaminated  house,  where  the  odours  of  pastilles 
and  drugs  blended  with,  but  could  not  conquer,  the  faint 
sickening  smell  of  fever  and  mortality,  among  these 
abandoned  few  were  Charlotte  and  Emily  Bronte. 

Thanks  to  the  free,  reckless  life,  the  sunshine,  the 
novel  abundance  of  food,  the  two  children  did  not  take 
the  infection.  Things,  indeed,  were  brighter  for  them 
now,  or  would  have  been,  could  the  indignant  spirit  in 
these  tiny  bodies  have  forgiven  or  forgotten  the  deaths 
of  their  two  sisters. 

Reform  had  come  to  Cowan's  Bridge,  and  with  swift 
strides  cleared  away  the  old  order  of  things.  The  site 
was  declared  unhealthy ;  the  clothing  insufficient ;  the 
water  fetid  and  brackish.  When  the  doctor  who  in- 
spected the  school  was  asked  to  taste  the  daily  food  of 
the  scholars  he  spat  it  out  of  his  mouth.  Everything, 
everything  must  be  altered.  It  was  a  time  of  sore  and 
grievous  humiliation  to  Mr.  Wilson.  He  had  felt  no 
qualms,  no  doubts ;  he  had  worked  very  hard,  -he 


thought  things  were  going  very  well.  The  accounts  were 
in  excellent  order,  the  education  thorough  and  good,  the 
system  elaborate,  the  girls  really  seemed  to  be  acquiring 
a  meek  and  quiet  spirit ;  and,  to  quote  the  prospectus, 
"  the  great  object  in  view  is  their  intellectual  and  religious 
improvement."  Then  stepped  in  unreckoned-with  dis- 
ease, and  the  model  institution  became  a  by-word  of 
reproach  to  the  county  and  the  order  to  which  it  be- 
longed. People,  however,  were  not  unjust  to  the  influ- 
ential and  wealthy  treasurer,  trustee,  and  secretary* 
They  admitted  his  energy,  financial  capacities,  and  turn 
for  organisation.  All  they  did  was  to  qualify  the  rigour 
of  his  management.  He  still  continued  treasurer,  but 
the  funds  were  entrusted  to  a  committee.  He  kept  his 
post  of  inspector,  but  assistants  were  appointed  to  share 
his  responsibilities.  The  school  was  given  in  charge  to 
a  new  housekeeper ;  larger  and  better  rations  of  food 
were  given  out.  Finally  a  subscription  was  set  on  foot 
to  build  a  better  house  in  a  healthier  spot.  When 
Charlotte  and  Emily  Bronte  went  home  for  the  mid- 
summer holidays,  reform  was  in  full  swing  at  Cowan's 

They  went  home,  two  out  of  the  four  children  who- 
had  left  their  happy  home  six  months  before.  They 
went  home  to  find  no  motherly  Maria,  no  sturdy,  patient 
Elizabeth.  The  walks  on  the  moors,  the  tales  under  the 
thorn-trees  must  henceforth  be  incomplete.  The  two 
elders  of  that  little  band  were  no  longer  to  be  found  in 
house  or  garden — they  lay  quiet  under  a  large  paving- 
stone  close  to  the  vicarage  pew  at  church.  The  three 
little  sisters,  the  one  little  brother,  must  have  often 
thought  on  their  quiet  neighbours  when  the  sermon  was 
very  long.  Thus  early  familiarised  and  neighbourly  with 
death,  one  of  them  at  least,  tall,  courageous  Emily, 

grew  up  to  have  no  dreary  thouorn-tree  or  two,  and  a 
dreams  of  a  far-off  heaven.  ijd  not  grow.     Next 

When  the  holidays  were  over,  the  qding  churchyard, 
to  school.  Their  father,  strangely  eno*  of  grass  could 
to  send  them  to  that  fatal  place.  Then 
two  favourites  at  home,  was  not  over-anxiou  «n,  treeless 
and  Emily  went  back  to  Cowan's  Bridge,  feeding  a 
the  winter  they  were  ill :  the  damp  air,  the  urn  wild 
site  (for  as  yet  the  new  house  was  not  built)  brougis  of 
the  weakness  of  their  constitutions.  Bearing  the  eis- 
sisters'  fate  in  view,  the  authorities  warned  Mr.  Bronx,* 
and  the  two  children  came  home  to  Haworth. 

38  EMIL  Y . '  BRONT& 

thought  things  were  goir 
in  excellent  order,  the 
system  elaborate,  th 
a  meek  and  quiet 
"the great  objec' 

ease,  and  t1  CHAPTER  IV. 


longed  CHILDHOOD. 


TbHE  home  to  which  Charlotte  and  Emily  returned  was 

f  not  a  very  much  more  healthy  spot  than  that  they  left ; 
but  it  was  home.  It  was  windy  and  cold,  and  badly 
drained.  Mr.  Bronte  was  ever  striving  to  stir  up  his 
parishioners  to  improve  the  sanitary  conditions  of  the 
place ;  but  for  many  years  his  efforts  were  in  vain. 
The  canny  Yorkshire  folk  were  loth  to  put  their  money 
underground,  and  it  was  hard  to  make  them  believe 
that  the  real  cause  of  the  frequent  epidemics  and  fevers 
in  Haworth  was  such  as  could  be  cured  by  an  effective 
system  of  subsoil  drainage.  It  was  cheaper  and  easier 
to  lay  the  blame  at  the  doors  of  Providence.  So  the 
parson  preached  in  vain.  Well  might  he  preach,  for  his 
own  house  was  in  the  thick  of  the  evil. 

"As  you  left  the  Parsonage-gate  you  looked  upon 
the  stonecutter's  chipping-shed,  which  was  piled  with 
slabs  ready  for  use,  and  to  the  ear  there  was  the  in- 
cessant 'chip,  chip'  of  the  recording  chisel  as  it  graved 
in  the  '  In  Memoriams '  of  the  departed." 

So  runs  Miss  Nussey's  manuscript.  She  also  tells  of 
the  constant  sound  of  the  passing  bell ;  of  the  frequent 
burials  in  the  thronged  churchyard.  No  cheerful,  healthy 
home  for  sensitive,  delicate  children. 

"  From  the  Parsonage  windows  the  first  view  was  the 


plot  of  grass  edged  by  a  wall,  a  thorn-tree  or  two,  and  a 
few  shrubs  and  currant-bushes  that  did  not  grow.  Next 
to  these  was  the  large  and  half-surrounding  churchyard, 
so  full  of  gravestones  that  hardly  a  strip  of  grass  could 
be  seen  in  it." 

Beyond  this  the  moors,  the  wild,  barren,  treeless 
moors,  that  stretch  away  for  miles  and  miles,  feeding  a 
few  herds  of  mountain  sheep,  harbouring  some  wild 
conies  and  hares,  giving  a  nesting-place  to  the  birds  of 
heaven,  and,  for  the  use  of  man,  neither  grain  nor  pas- 
turage, but  quarries  of  stone  and  piles  of  peat  luridly 
smouldering  up  there  on  autumn  nights. 

Such  is  the  home  to  which  Emily  Bronte  clung  with 
the  passionate  love  of  the  Swiss  for  his  white  mountains, 
with  a  homesickness  in  absence  that  strained  the  very 
cords  of  life.  Yet  her  childhood  in  that  motherless 
home  had  few  of  the  elements  of  childish  happiness,  and 
its  busy  strictness  of  daily  life  was  saddened  by  the 
loss  of  Maria  and  Elizabeth,  dear,  never-forgotten  play- 
fellows. Charlotte,  now  the  eldest  of  the  family,  was 
only  two  years  older  than  Emily,  but  her  sense  of  respon- 
sibility made  her  seem  quite  of  a  different  age.  It  was 
little  Anne  who  was  Emily's  companion — delicate,  shrink- 
ing, pretty  Anne,  Miss  Branwell's  favourite.  Anne  could 
enter  only  into  the  easiest  or  lightest  of  her  sister's 
moods,  and  yet  she  was  so  dear  that  Emily  never  sought 
another  friend.  So  from  childhood  she  grew  accustomed 
to  keep  her  own  confidence  upon  her  deepest  thoughts 
and  liveliest  fancies. 

A  quiet  regular  life — carpet-brushing,  sewing,  dusting 
in  the  morning.  Then  some  necessary  lessons  said  to 
their  aunt  upstairs  ;  then,  in  the  evening,  while  Mr.  Bronte 
wrote  his  sermons  in  the  study  and  Miss  Branwell  sat  in 
her  bedroom,  the  four  children,  alone  in  the  parlour,  or 


sitting  by  the  kitchen  fire,  while  Tabby,  the  servant,, 
moved  briskly  about,  would  write  their  magazines  or 
make  their  plays. 

There  was  a  great  deal  about  politics  still  in  the  plays. 
Mr.  Bronte,  who  took  a  keen  interest  in  the  affairs  of  the 
world,  always  told  the  children  the  chief  public  news  of 
the  day,  and  let  them  read  what  newspapers  and  maga- 
zines they  could  lay  hold  on.  So  the  little  Brontes 
prattled  of  the  Duke  of  Wellington  when  other  children 
still  have  Jack  the  Giantkiller  for  a  hero ;  the  Marquis 
of  Douro  was  their  Prince  Charming ;  their  Yahoos,, 
the  Catholics ;  their  potent  evil  genii  the  Liberal 

"Our  plays  were  established,"  says  Charlotte,  the 
family  chronicler,  in  her  history  of  the  year  1829: 
"'Young  Men/  June,  1826  ;  'Our  Fellows/  July,  1827  ; 
'Islanders/  December,  1827.  These  are  our  three  great 
plays  that  are  not  kept  secret.  Emily's  and  my  best 
plays  were  established  the  1st  of  December,  1827;  the 
others,  March,  1828.  Best  plays  mean  secret  plays  ;  they 
are  very  nice  ones.  All  our  plays  are  very  strange  ones. 
Their  nature  I  need  not  write  on  paper,  for  I  think  I 
shall  always  remember  them.  The  '  Young  Men's '  play 
took  its  rise  from  some  wooden  soldiers  Branwell  had  ; 
'  Our  Fellows '  from  ^Esop's  Fables  ;  and  the  '  Islanders  ' 
from  several  events  which  happened.  I  will  sketch  out 
the  origin  of  our  plays  more  explicitly  if  I  can.  First, 
'  Young  Men.'  Papa  bought  Branwell  some  wooden  sol- 
diers at  Leeds  ;  when  papa  came  home  it  was  night,  and 
we  were  in  bed,  so  next  morning  Branwell  came  to  our 
door  "  (the  little  room  over  the  passage  .  Anne  slept  with 
her  aunt)  "with  a  box  of  soldiers.  Emily  and  I  jumped 
out  of  bed,  and  I  snatched  up  one  and  exclaimed,  '  This 
is  the  Duke  of  Wellington  !  This  shall  be  the  Duke/ 


When  I  had  said  this,  Emily  likewise  took  one  up  and 
said  it  should  be  hers  ;  when  Anne  came  down,  she  said 
one  should  be  hers.  Mine  was  the  prettiest  of  the  whole, 
the  tallest  and  the  most  perfect  in  every  part.  Emily's 
was  a  grave-looking  fellow,  and  we  called  him  '  Gravey.' 
Anne's  was  a  queer  little  thing,  much  like  herself,  and 
we  called  him  '  Waiting-boy.'  Branwell  chose  his,  and 
called  him  Bonaparte." 

In  another  play  Emily  chooses  Sir  Walter  Scott,  Mr. 
Lockhart  and  Johnny  Lockhart  as  her  representatives  ; 
Charlotte  the  Duke  of  Wellington,  the  Marquis  of 
Douro,  Mr.  Abernethy,  and  Christopher  North.  This 
last  personage  was  indeed  of  great  importance  in  the 
eyes  of  the  children,  for  BlackwoocCs  Magazine  was  their 
favourite  reading.  On  their  father's  shelves  were  few 
novels,  and  few  books  of  poetry.  The  clergyman's  study 
necessarily  boasted  its  works  of  divinity  and  reference  ; 
for  the  children  there  were  only  the  wild  romances  of 
Southey,  the  poems  of  Sir  Walter  Scott,  left  by  their 
Cornish  mother,  and  "  some  mad  Methodist  magazines 
full  of  miracles  and  apparitions  and  preternatural  warn- 
ings, ominous  dreams  and  frenzied  fanaticism ;  and  the 
equally  mad  letters  of  Mrs.  Elizabeth  Rowe  from  the 
Dead  to  the  Living,"  familiar  to  readers  of  '  Shirley.'  To 
counterbalance  all  t*""s  romance  and  terror,  the  children 
had  their  interest  ir.  politics  and  Blackwoods  Magazine, 
"the  most  able  periodical  there  is,"  says  thirteen-year- 
old  Charlotte.  They  also  saw  John  Bull,  "  a  high  Tory,, 
very  violent,  the  Leeds  Mercury,  Leeds  Intelligencer, 
a  most  excellent  Tory  newspaper,"  and  thus  became 
accomplished  fanatics  in  all  the  burning  questions  of 
the  day. 

Miss  Branwell  took  care  that  the  girls  should  not  lack 
more  homely  knowledge.     Each  took  her  share  in  the 


day's  work,  and  learned  all  details  of  it  as  accurately  as 
any  German  maiden  at  her  cookery  school.  Emily  took 
very  kindly  to  even  the  hardest  housework ;  there  she 
felt  able  and  necessary  ;  and,  doubtless,  upstairs,  grimly 
listening  to  prim  Miss  Branwell's  stories  of  bygone 
gaieties,  this  awkward  growing  girl  was  glad  to  remember 
that  she  too  was  of  importance  to  the  household,  despite 
her  tongue-tied  brooding. 

The  girls  fared  well  enough ;  but  not  so  their  brother. 
Branwell's  brilliant  purposelessness,  Celtic  gaiety,  love 
of  amusement  and  light  heart  made  him  the  most  charm- 
ing playfellow,  but  a  very  anxious  charge.  Friends 
advised  Mr.  Bronte  to  send  his  son  to  school,  but  the 
peculiar  vanity  which  made  him  model  his  children's 
youth  in  all  details  on  his  own  forbad  him  to  take  their 
counsel.  Since  he  had  fed  on  potatoes,  his  children 
should  eat  no  meat.  Since  he  had  grown  up  at  home  as 
'best  he  might,  why  should  Patrick  Branwell  go  to  school  ? 
Every  day  the  father  gave  a  certain  portion  of  his  time 
to  working  with  his  boy  ;  but  a  clergyman's  time  is  not 
his  own,  and  often  he  was  called  away  on  parish  business. 
Doubtless  Mr.  Bronte  thought  these  tutorless  hours  were 
spent,  as  he  would  have  spent  them,  in  earnest  prepara- 
tion of  difficult  tasks.  But  Branwell,  with  all  his  father's 
superficial  charm  of  manner,  was  without  the  underlying 
strength  of  will,  and  he  possessed,  unchecked,  the  temp- 
tations to  self-indulgence,  to  which  his  father  seldom 
yielded,  counteracting  them  rather  by  an  ascetic  regimen 
of  life.  These  long  afternoons  were  spent,  not  in  work, 
but  in  mischievous  companionship  with  the  wilder  spirits 
of  the  village,  to  whom  "  t'  Vicar's  Patrick "  was  the 
standard  of  brilliant  leadership  in  scrapes. 

No  doubt  their  admiration  flattered  Branwell,  and  he 
•enjoyed  the  noisy  fun  they  had  together.  Nevertheless 


he  did  not  quite  neglect  his  sisters.  Charlotte  has  said 
that  at  this  time  she  loved  him  even  as  her  own  soul— a 
serious  phrase  upon  those  serious  lips.  But  it  was  Emily 
and  Branwell  who  were  most  to  each  other :  bright, 
shallow,  exacting  brother  ;  silent,  deep-brooding,  unselfish 
sister,  more  anxious  to  give  than  to  receive.  In  January,. 
1831,  Charlotte  went  to  school  at  Miss  Wooler's,  at  Roe 
Head,  twenty  miles  away ;  and  Branwell  and  Emily 
were  thrown  yet  more  upon  each  other  for  sympathy 
and  entertainment. 

Charlotte  stayed  a  year  and  a  half  at  school,  and 
returned  in  the  July  of  1832  to  teach  Emily  and  Anne 
what  she  had  learnt  in  her  absence ;  English-French, 
English  and  drawing  was  pretty  nearly  all  the  instruc- 
tion she  could  give.  Happily  genius  needs  no  curri- 
culum. Nevertheless  the  sisters  toiled  to  extract  their 
utmost  boon  from  such  advantages  as  came  within  their 
range.  Every  morning  from  nine  till  half-past  twelve 
they  worked  at  their  lessons  ;  then  they  walked  together 
over  the  moors,  just  coming  into  flower.  These  moors 
knew  a  different  Emily  to  the  quiet  girl  of  fourteen  who 
helped  in  the  housework  and  learned  her  lessons  so 
regularly  at  home.  On  the  moors  she  was  gay,  frolic- 
some, almost  wild.  She  would  set  the  others  laughing 
with  her  quaint  humorous  sallies  and  genial  ways.  She 
was  quite  at  home  there,  taking  the  fledgeling  birds  in 
her  hands  so  softly  that  they  were  not  afraid,  and  telling 
stories  to  them.  A  strange  figure — tall,  slim,  angular, 
with  all  her  inches  not  yet  grown ;  a  quantity  of  dark- 
brown  hair,  deep  beautiful  hazel  eyes  that  could  flash 
with  passion,  features  somewhat  strong  and  stern,  the 
mouth  prominent  and  resolute. 

The  sisters,  and  sometimes  Branwell,  would  go  far  on 
the  moors ;  sometimes  four  miles  to  Keighley  in  the 


hollow  over  the  ridge,  unseen  from  the  heights,  but 
brooded  over  always  by  a  dim  film  of  smoke,  seemingly 
the  steam  rising  from  some  fiery  4ake.  The  sisters  'now 
subscribed  to  a  circulating  library  at  Keighley,  and 
would  gladly  undertake  the  rough  walk  of  eight  miles 
for  the  sake  of  bringing  back  with  them  a  novel  by  Scott, 
or  a  poem  by  Southey.  At  Keighley,  too,  they  bought 
their  paper.  The  stationer  used  to  wonder  how  they 
could  get  through  so  much. 

Other  days  they  went  over  Stanbury  Moor  to  the 
Waterfall,  a  romantic  glen  in  the  heathy  side  of  the 
hill  where  a  little  stream  drips  over  great  boulders,  and 
where  some  slender  delicate  birches  spring,  a  wonder  in 
this  barren  country.  This  was  a  favourite  haunt  of 
Emily,  and  indeed  they  all  loved  the  spot.  Here  they 
would  use  some  of  their  paper,  for  they  still  kept  up 
their  old  habit  of  writing  tales  and  poems,  and  loved 
to  scribble  out  of  doors.  And  some  of  it  they  would  use 
in  drawing,  since  at  this  time  they  were  taking  lessons, 
and  Emily  and  Charlotte  were  devoted  to  the  art : 
Charlotte  making  copies  with  minuteness  and  exact 
fidelity ;  Emily  drawing  animals  and  still-life  with  far 
greater  freedom  and  certainty  of  touch.  Some  of  Char- 
lotte's paper,  also,  must  have  gone  in  letter-writing. 
She  had  made  friends  at  school,  an  event  of  great 
importance  to  that  narrow  circle.  One  of  these  friends, 
the  dearest,  was  unknown  to  Haworth.  Many  a  time 
must  Emily  and  Anne  have  listened  to  accounts  of  the 
pretty,  accomplished,  lively  girl,  a  favourite  in  many 
homes,  who  had  won  the  heart  of  their  shy  plain  sister. 
She  was,  indeed,  used  to  a  very  different  life,  this  fair 
young  girl,  but  her  bright  youth  and  social  pleasures  did 
not  blind  her  to  the  fact  that  oddly-dressed,  old-fashioned 
Charlotte  Bronte  was  the  most  remarkable  person  of  her 


.acquaintance.  She  was  the  first,  outside  Charlotte's 
home,  to  discover  her  true  character  and  genius  ;  and 
that  at  an  age,  in  a  gosition,  when  most  girls  would  be 
too  busy  with  visions  of  a  happy  future  for  themselves 
to  sympathise  with  the  strange  activities,  the  morbid 
sensitiveness,  of  such  a  mind  as  Charlotte  possessed.  But 
so  early  this  girl  loved  her;  and  lives  still,  the  last  to 
have  an  intimate  recollection  of  the  ways,  persons  and 
habits  of  the  Bronte  household. 

In  September,  1832,  Charlotte  left  home  again  on  a 
fortnight's  visit  to  the  home  of  this  dear  friend.  Branwell 
took  her  there.  He  had  probably  never  been  from  home 
before.  He  was  in  wild  spirits  at  the  beauty  of  the 
house  and  grounds,  inspecting,  criticising  everything, 
pouring  out  a  stream  of  comments,  rich  in  studio  terms, 
taking  views  in  every  direction  of  the  old  battlemented 
house,  and  choosing  "  bits  "  that  he  would  like  to  paint, 
delighting  the  whole  family  with  his  bright  cleverness, 
and  happy  Irish  ways.  Meanwhile  Charlotte  looked 
on,  shy  and  dull.  "  I  leave  you  in  Paradise ! "  'cried 
Branwell,  and  betook  himself  over  the  moor  to  make 
fine  stories  of  his  visit  to  Emily  and  Anne  in  the  bare 
little  parlour  at  Haworth. 

Charlotte's  friend,  Ellen,  sent  her  home  laden  with 
apples  for  her  two  young  sisters :  "  Elles  disent  qu'elles 
.sont  sur  que  Mademoiselle  E.  est  tres-aimable  et  bonne ; 
1'une  et  1'autre  sont  extremement  impatientes  de  vous 
voir  ;  j'espere  que  dans  peu  de  mois  elles  auront  ce 
plaisir "  So  writes  Charlotte  in  the  quaint  Anglo- 
French  that  the  friends  wrote  to  each  other  for  practice. 
But  winter  was  approaching,  and  winter  is  dreary  at 
Haworth.  Miss  Branwell  persuaded  the  eager  girls  to 
put  off  their  visitor  till  summer  made  the  moors  warm 
and  dry,  and  beautiful,  so  that  the  young  people  could 


spend  much  of  their  time  out  of  doors.     In  the  summer 
of  1833  Ellen  came  to  Haworth. 

Miss  Ellen  Nussey  is  the  only  person  living  who  knew 
Emily  Bronte  on  terms  of  intimate  equality,  and  her 
testimony  carries  out  that  of  those  humbler  friends  who 
helped  the  parson's  busy  daughter  in  her  cooking  and 
cleaning ;  from  all  alike  we  hear  of  an  active,  genial,, 
warm-hearted  girl,  full  of  humour  and  feeling  to  those 
she  knew,  though  shy  and  cold  in  her  bearing  to  strangers. 
A  different  being  to  the  fierce  impassioned  Vestal  who 
has  seated  herself  in  Emily's  place  of  remembrance. 

In  1833  Emily  was  nearly  fifteen,  a  tall  long-armed 
girl,  full  grown,  elastic  of  tread  ;  with  a  slight  figure 
that  looked  queenly  in  her  best  dresses,  .but  loose  and 
boyish  when  she  slouched  over  the  moors,  whistling  to 
her  dogs,  and  taking  long  strides  over  the  rough  earth. 
A  tall,  thin,  loose-jointed  girl — not  ugly,  but  with  irre- 
gular features  and  a  pallid  thick  complexion.  Her  dark 
brown  hair  was  naturally  beautiful,  and  in  later  days- 
looked  well,  loosely  fastened  with  a  tall  comb  at  the 
back  of  her  head  ;  but  in  1833  she  wore  it  in  an  un- 
becoming tight  curl  and  frizz.  She  had  very  beautiful 
eyes  of  hazel  colour.  "  Kind,  kindling,  liquid  eyes,"  says 
the  friend  who  survives  all  that  household.  She  had  an 
aquiline  nose,  a  large  expressive,  prominent  mouth.  She 
talked  little.  No  grace  or  style  in  dress  belonged  to 
Emily,  but  under  her  awkward  clothes  her  natural  move- 
ments had  the  lithe  beauty  of  the  wild  creatures  that  she 
loved.  She  was  a  great  walker,  spending  all  her  leisure 
on  the  moors.  She  loved  the  freedom  there,  the  large 
air.  She  loved  the  creatures,  too.  Never  was  a  soul 
with  a  more  passionate  love  of  Mother  Earth,  of  every 
weed  and  flower,  of  every  bird,  beast,  and  insect  that 
lived.  She  would  have  peopled  the  house  with  pets  had 


not  Miss  Branwell  kept  her  niece's  love  of  animals  in  due 
subjection.  Only  one  dog  was  allowed,  who  was  admitted 
into  the  parlour  at  stated  hours,  but  out  of  doors  Emily 
made  friends  with  all  the  beasts  and  birds.  She  would 
come  home  carrying  in  her  hands  some  young  bird  or 
rabbit,  and  softly  talking  to  it  as  she  came.  "  Ee,  Miss 
Emily/'  the  young  servant  would  say,  "one  would  think 
the  bird  could  understand  you."  "I  am  sure  it  can," 
Emily  would  answer.  "  Oh,  I  am  sure  it  can." 

The  girls  would  take  their  friend  long  walks  on  the 
moor.  When  they  went  very  far,  Tabby,  their  old 
factotum,  insisted  on  escorting  them,  unless  Branwell 
took  that  duty  on  himself,  for  they  were  still  "  childer  " 
in  her  eyes.  Emily  and  Anne  walked  together.  They 
and  Branwell  would  ford  the  streams  and  place  stepping- 
stones  for  the  elder  girls.  At  every  point  of  view,  at 
every  flower,  the  happy  little  party  would  stop  to  talk, 
admire,  and  theorise  in  concert.  Emily's  reserve  had 
vanished  as  morning  mists.  She  was  full  of  glee  and 
gladness,  on  her  own  demesne,  no  longer  awkward  and 
silent.  On  fine  days  Emily  and  Anne  would  persuade 
the  others  to  walk  to  the  Waterfall  which  made  an  island 
of  brilliant  green  turf  in  the  midst  of  the  heather,  set 
with  clear  springs,  shaded  with  here  and  there  a  silver 
birch,  and  dotted  with  grey  boulders,  beautiful  resting- 
places.  Here  the  four  girls — the  "  quartette  "  as  they 
called  themselves — would  go  and  sit  and  listen  to  Ellen's 
stones  of  the  world  they  had  not  seen.  Or  Emily,  half- 
reclining  on  a  slab  of  stone,  would  play  like  a  young 
child  with  the  tadpoles  in  the  water,  making  them  swim 
about,  and  she  would  fall  to  moralising  on  the  strong 
and  the  weak,  the  brave  and  the  cowardly,  as  she  chased 
the  creatures  with  her  hand.  Having  rested,  they  would 
trudge  home  again  a  merry  party,  save  when  they  met 



some  wandering  villager.  Then  the  parson's  three 
daughters  would  walk  on,  hushed  and  timid. 

At  nine  the  sewing  was  put  by,  and  the  four  girls 
would  talk  and  laugh,  pacing  round  the  parlour.  Miss 
Branwell  went  to  bed  early,  and  the  young  people  were 
left  alone  in  the  curtainless  clean  parlour,  with  its  grey 
walls  and  horse-hair  furniture.  But  with  good  company 
no  room  is  poorly  furnished  ;  and  they  had  much  to  say, 
and  much  to  listen  to,  on  nights  when  Branwell  was  at 
home.  Oftenest  they  must  have  missed  him ;  since, 
whenever  a  visitor  stayed  at  the  "  Black  Bull,"  the  little 
inn  across  the  churchyard,  the  landlord  would  send  up 
for  "  T'  Vicar's  Patrick  "  to  come  and  amuse  the  guests 
with  his  brilliant  rhodomontade. 

Not  much  writing  went  on  in  Ellen's  presence,  but 
gay  discussion,  making  of  stories,  and  serious  argument. 
They  would  talk  sometimes  of  dead  Maria  and  Eliza- 
beth, always  remembered  with  an  intensity  of  love. 
About  eight  o'clock  Mr.  Bronte  would  call  the  house- 
hold to  family  prayers  :  and  an  hour  afterwards  he  used 
to  bolt  the  front  door,  and  go  upstairs  to  bed,  always 
stopping  at  the  sitting-room  with  a  kindly  admonition  to 
the  "  children  "  not  to  be  late.  At  last  the  girls  would 
stop  their  chatter,  and  retire  for  the  night,  Emily  giving 
her  bed  to  the  visitor  and  taking  a  share  of  the  servants' 
room  herself. 

At  breakfast  the  next  morning  Ellen  used  to  listen 
with  shrinking  amazement  to  the  stories  of  wild  horror 
that  Mr.  Bronte  loved  to  relate,  fearful  stories  of  super- 
stitious Ireland,  or  barbarous  legends  of  the  rough 
dwellers  on  the  moors  ;  Ellen  would  turn  pale  and  cold 
to  hear  them.  Sometimes  she  marvelled  as  she  caught 
sight  of  Emily's  face,  relaxed  from  its  company  rigour, 
while  she  stooped  down  to  hand  her  porridge-bowl 


to  the  dog :  she  wore  a  strange  expression,  gratified, 
pleased,  as  though  she  had  gained  something  which 
seemed  to  complete  a  picture  in  her  mind.  For  this 
silent  Emily,  talking  little  save  in  rare  bursts  of  wild 
spirits  ;  this  energetic  housewife,  cooking  and  cleaning  as 
though  she  had  no  other  aim  in  view  than  the  providing 
for  the  day's  comfort ;  this  was  the  same  Emily  who  at 
five  years  of  age  used  to  startle  the  nursery  with  her 
fantastic  fairy  stories.  Two  lives  went  on  side  by  side 
in  her  heart,  neither  ever  mingling  with  or  interrupting 
the  other.  Practical  housewife  with  capable  hands, 
dreamer  of  strange  horrors :  each  self  was  independent  of 
the  companion  to  which  it  was  linked  by  day  and  night 
People  in  those  days  knew  her  but  as  she  seemed — "  T 
Vicar's  Emily  " — a  shy  awkward  girl,  never  teaching  in 
the  Sunday  school  like  her  sisters,  never  talking  with  the 
villagers  like  merry  Branwell,  but  very  good  and  hearty 
in  helping  the  sick  and  distressed:  not  pretty  in  the 
village  estimation — a  "  slinky  lass,"  no  prim,  trim  little 
body  like  pretty  Anne,  nor  with  Charlotte  Bronte's 
taste  in  dress  ;  just  a  clever  lass  with  a  spirit  of  her 
own.  So  the  village  judged  her.  At  home  they  loved 
her  with  her  strong  feelings,  untidy  frocks,  indomitable 
will,  and  ready  contempt  for  the  common-place ;  she 
was  appreciated  as  a  dear  and  necessary  member  of  the 
household.  Of  Emily's  deeper  self,  her  violent  genius, 
neither  friend  nor  neighbour  dreamed  in  those  days. 
And  to-day  it  is  only  this  Emily  who  is  remembered. 

Days  went  on,  pleasant  days  of  autumn,  in  which 
Charlotte  and  her  friend  roamed  across  the  blooming 
moors,  in  which  Anne  and  Emily  would  take  their  little 
stools  and  big  desks  into  the  garden,  and  sit  and  scribble 
under  the  currant-bushes,  stopping  now  and  then  to 
pluck  the  ripe  fruit  Then  came  chill  October,  bringing 

E  2 


cold  winds  and  rain.  Ellen  went  home,  leaving  an  empty 
chair  in  the  quartette,  leaving  Charlotte  lonelier,  and 
even  Emily  and  Anne  a  little  dull.  "  They  never  liked 
any  one  as  well  as  you,"  says  Charlotte. 

Winter  came,  more  than  usually  unhealthy  that  year, 
and  the  moors  behind  the  house  were  impassable  with 
snow  and  rain.  Miss  Branwell  continually  bemoaned 
the  warm  and  flowery  winters  of  Penzance,  shivering  over 
the  fire  in  her  bedroom  ;  Mr.  Bronte  was  ill ;  outside  the 
air  was  filled  with  the  mournful  sound  of  the  passing 
bell.  But  the  four  young  people  sitting  round  the 
parlour  hearth-place  were  not  cold  or  miserable.  They 
were  dreaming  of  a  happy  and  glorious  future,  a  great 
career  in  Art ;  not  for  Charlotte,  not  for  Emily  or  Anne, 
they  were  only  girls ;  their  dreams  were  for  the  hope 
and  promise  of  the  house— for  Branwell. 


EMILY  was  now  sixteen  years  old,  and  though  the 
people  in  the  village  called  her  "  t'  cleverest  o'  t'  Bronte 
childer,"  she  had  little  to  show  of  her  cleverness.  Her 
education  was  as  home-made  as  her  gowns,  not  such  as 
would  give  distinction  to  a  governess  ;  and  a  governess 
Emily  would  have  to  be.  The  Bronte  sisters  were  too 
severe  and  noble  in  their  theories  of  life  ever  to  con- 
template marriage  as  a  means  of  livelihood  ;  but  even 
worldly  sisters  would  have  owned  that  there  was  little 
chance  of  impatient  Emily  marrying  at  all.  She  was 
almost  violent  in  her  dislike  of  strangers.  The  first  time 
that  Ellen  stayed  at  Haworth,  Charlotte  was  ill  one  day 
and  could  not  go  out  with  her  friend.  To  their  surprise 
Emily  volunteered  to  take  the  stranger  a  walk  over  the 
moors.  Charlotte  waited  anxiously  for  their  return,  fear- 
ing some  outbreak  of  impatience  or  disdain  on  the  part 
of  her  untamable  sister.  The  two  girls  at  last  came 
home.  "  How  did  Emily  behave  ? "  asked  Charlotte, 
eagerly,  drawing  her  friend  aside.  She  had  behaved 
well ;  she  had  shown  her  true  self,  her  noble,  energetic, 
truthful  soul,  and  from  that  day  there  was  a  real  friend- 
ship between  the  gentle  Ellen  and  the  intractable  Emily  ; 
but  none  the  less  does  Charlotte's  question  reveal  in  how 
different  a  manner  the  girl  regarded  strangers  as  a  rule. 
In  after  days  when  the  curates,  looking  for  Mr.  Bronte 


in  his  study,  occasionally  found  Emily  there  instead,  they 
used  to  beat  such  a  hasty  retreat  that  it  was  quite  an 
established  joke  at  the  Parsonage  that  Emily  appeared 
to  the  outer  world  in  the  likeness  of  an  old  bear.  She 
hated  strange  faces  and  strange  places.  Her  sisters 
must  have  seen  that  such  a  temperament,  if  it  made 
her  unlikely  to  attract  a  husband  or  to  wish  to  attract 
one,  also  rendered  her  lamentably  unfit  to  earn  her 
living  as  a  governess.  In  those  days  they  could  not 
tell  that  the  defect  was  incurable,  a  congenital  infirmity 
of  nature  ;  and  doubtless  Charlotte,  the  wise  elder  sister, 
thought  she  had  found  a  cure  for  both  the  narrow  educa- 
tion and  the  narrow  sympathies  when  she  suggested  that 
Emily  should  go  to  school.  She  writes  to  her  friend  in 
July,  1835  :— 

"  I  had  hoped  to  have  had  the  extreme  pleasure  of 
seeing  you  at  Haworth  this  summer,  but  human  affairs 
are  mutable,  and  human  resolutions  must  bend  to  the 
course  of  events.  We  are  all  about  to  divide,  break  up, 
separate.  Emily  is  going  to  school,  Branwell  is  going 
to  London,  and  I  am  going  to  be  a  governess.  This 
last  determination  I  formed  myself,  knowing  I  should 
have  to  take  the  step  sometime,  and  '  better  sune  as 
syne,'  to  use  a  Scotch  proverb  ;  and  knowing  well  that 
Papa  would  have  enough  to  do  with  his  limited  income,, 
should  Branwell  be  placed  at  the  Royal  Academy  and 
Emily  at  Roe  Head.  Where  am  I  going  to  reside  ? 
you  will  ask.  Within  four  miles  of  you,  at  a  place 
neither  of  us  are  unacquainted  with,  being  no  other  than 
the  identical  Roe  Head  mentioned  above.  Yes  !  I  am 
going  to  teach  in  the  very  school  where  I  was  myself 
taught.  Miss  Wooler  made  me  the  offer,  and  I  preferred 
it  to  one  or  two  proposals  of  private  governess-ship  which 
I  had  before  received.  I  am  sad — very  sad — at  the 


thoughts  of  leaving  home  ;  but  duty — necessity — these 
are  stern  mistresses,  who  will  not  be  disobeyed.  Did 
I  not  once  say  you  ought  to  be  thankful  for  your  inde- 
pendence ?  I  felt  what  I  said  at  the  time,  and  I  repeat 
it  now  with  double  earnestness  ;  if  anything  would  cheer 
me  it  is  the  idea  of  being  so  near  you.  Surely  you  and 
Polly  will  come  and  see  me ;  it  would  be  wrong  in  me 
to  doubt  it ;  you  were  never  unkind  yet.  Emily  and  I 
leave  home  on  the  2/th  of  this  month  ;  the  idea  of  being 
together  consoles  us  both  somewhat,  and,  truth,  since  I 
must  enter  a  situation,  '  My  lines  have  fallen  in  pleasant 
places.'  I  both  love  and  respect  Miss  Wooler."  * 

The  wrench  of  leaving  home,  so  much  dreaded  by 
Charlotte,  was  yet  sharper  to  her  younger  sister, 
morbidly  fearful  of  strangers,  eccentric,  unable  to  live 
without  wide  liberty.  To  go  to  school;  it  must  have 
had  a  dreadful  sound  to  that  untamable,  free  creature, 
happiest  alone  with  the  dogs  on  the  moors,  with  little 
sentiment  or  instinct  for  friendship ;  no  desire  to  meet 
her  fellows.  Emily  was  perfectly  happy  at  Haworth 
cooking  the  dinner,  ironing  the  linen,  writing  poems 
at  the  Waterfall,  taking  her  dog  for  miles  over  the 
moors,  pacing  round  the  parlour  with  her  arm  round 
gentle  Anne's  waist.  Now  she  would  have  to  leave 
all  this,  to  separate  from  her  dear  little  sister.  But  she 
was  reasonable  and  just,  and,  feeling  the  attempt  should 
be  made,  she  packed  up  her  scanty  wardrobe,  and,  with- 
out repining,  set  out  with  Charlotte  for  Roe  Head. 

Charlotte  knew  where  she  was  going.  She  loved  and 
respected  Miss  Wooler ;  but  with  what  anxiety  must 
Emily  have  looked  for  the  house  where  she  was  to  live 
and  not  to  be  at  home.  At  last  she  saw  it,  a  cheerful, 
roomy,  country  house,  standing  a  little  apart  in  a  field. 
*  Mrs.  Gaskell. 

5  6  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

There  was  a  wide  and  pleasant  view  of  fields  and  woods  ; 
but  the  green  prospect  was  sullied  and  marred  by  the 
smoke  from  the  frequent  mills.  Green  fields,  grey  mills, 
all  told  of  industry,  labour,  occupation.  There  was  no 
wild  stretch  of  moorland  here,  no  possibility  of  solitude. 
I  think  when  Emily  Bronte  saw  the  place,  she  must  have 
known  very  well  she  would  not  be  happy  there. 

"My  sister  Emily  loved  the  moors,"  says  Charlotte, 
writing  of  these  days  in  the  latter  solitude — "flowers 
brighter  than  the  rose  bloomed  in  the  blackest  of  the 
heath  for  her  ;  out  of  a  sullen  hollow  in  a  livid  hillside 
her  mind  could  make  an  Eden.  She  found  in  the  bleak 
solitude  many  and  dear  delights  ;  and  not  the  least  and 
best-loved  was  liberty.  Liberty  was  the  breath  of  Emily's 
nostrils  ;  without  it  she  perished.  The  change  from  her 
own  home  to  a  school,  and  from  her  own  very  noiseless, 
very  secluded,  but  unrestricted  and  unartificial  mode  of 
life  to  one  of  disciplined  routine  (though  under  the  kindest 
auspices)  was  what  she  failed  in  enduring.  Her  nature 
was  here  too  strong  for  her  fortitude.  Every  morning, 
when  she  woke,  the  visions  of  home  and  the  moors 
rushed  on  her,  and  darkened  and  saddened  the  day 
that  lay  before  her.  Nobody  knew  what  ailed  her  but 
me.  I  knew  only  too  well.  In  this  struggle  her  health 
was  quickly  broken :  her  white  face,  attenuated  form, 
and  failing  strength  threatened  rapid  decline.  I  felt  in 
my  heart  she  would  die  if  she  did  not  go  home." 

Thus  looking  on,  Charlotte  grew  alarmed.  She  remem- 
bered the  death  of  Maria  and  Elizabeth,  and  feared, 
feared  with  anguish,  lest  this  best-beloved  sister  should 
follow  them.  She  told  Miss  Wooler  of  her  fear,  and  the 
schoolmistress,  conscious  of  her  own  kindness  and  a  little 
resentful  at  Emily's  distress,  consented  that  the  girl  should 
be  sent  home  without  delay.  She  did  not  care  for  Emily, 


-and  was  not  sorry  to  lose  her.  So  in  October  she  re- 
turned to  Haworth,  to  the  only  place  where  she  was 
happy  and  well.  She  returned  to  harder  work  and 
plainer  living  than  she  had  known  at  school  ;  but  also 
to  home,  liberty,  comprehension,  her  animals,  and  her 
flowers.  In  her  native  atmosphere  she  very  soon  reco- 
vered the  health  and  strength  that  seemed  so  natural 
to  her  swift  spirit ;  that  were,  alas,  so  easily  endangered. 
She  had  only  been  at  school  three  months. 

Even  so  short  an  absence  may  very  grievously  alter 
the  aspect  of  familiar  things.  Haworth  itself  was  the 
same  ;  prim,  tidy  Miss  Branwell  still  pattered  about  in 
her  huge  caps  and  tiny  clogs  ;  the  Vicar  still  told  his 
horrible  stories  at  breakfast,  still  fought  vain  battles  with 
the  parishioners  who  would  not  drain  the  village,  and  the 
women  who  would  dry  their  linen  on  the  tombstones. 
Anne  was  still  as  transparently  pretty,  as  pensive  and 
pious  as  of  old  ;  but  over  the  hope  of  the  house,  the 
dashing,  clever  Branwell,  who  was  to  make  the  name 
of  Bronte  famous  in  art,  a  dim,  tarnishing  change  had 
come.  Emily  must  have  seen  it  with  fresh  eyes,  left 
more  and  more  in  Branwell's  company,  when,  after  the 
Christmas  holidays,  Anne  returned  with  Charlotte  to 
Roe  Head. 

There  is  in  none  of  Charlotte's  letters  any  further 
.talk  of  sending  Branwell  to  the  Royal  Academy.  He 
earnestly  desired  to  go,  and  for  him,  the  only  son,  any 
sacrifice  had  willingly  been  made.  But  there  were 
reasons  why  that  brilliant  unprincipled  lad  should  not 
be  trusted  now,  alone  in  London.  Too  frequent  had 
been  those  visits  to  the  "Black  Bull,"  undertaken,  at 
;first,  to  amuse  the  travellers  from  London,  Leeds  and 
Manchester,  who  found  their  evenings  dull.  The  Vicar's 
lad  was  following  the  proverbial  fate  of  parsons'  sons. 


Little  as  they  foreboded  the  end  in  store,  greatly  as  they 
hoped  all  his  errors  were  a  mere  necessary  attribute  of 
manliness,  the  sisters  must  have  read  in  his  shaken  nerves 
the  dissipation  for  which  their  clever  Branwell  was 
already  remarkable  in  Haworth.  It  is  true  that  to  be 
sometimes  the  worse  for  drink  was  no  uncommon 
fault  fifty  years  ago  in  Yorkshire ;  but  the  gradual 
coarsening  of  Branwell's  nature,  the  growing  flippancy,. 
the  altered  health,  must  have  given  a  cruel  awaken- 
ing to  his  sisters'  dreams  for  his  career.  In  1836 
this  deterioration  was  at  the  beginning ;  a  weed  in  bud 
that  could  only  bear  a  bitter  and  poisonous  fruit.  Emily 
hoped  the  best ;  his  father  did  not  seem  to  see  his  danger  ;, 
Miss  Branwell  spoiled  the  lad  ;  and  the  village  thought 
him  a  mighty  pleasant  young  gentleman  with  a  smile  and 
a  bow  for  every  one,  fond  of  a  glass  and  a  chat  in  the 
pleasant  parlour  of  the  "  Black  Bull "  at  nights ;  a  gay,, 
feckless,  red-haired,  smiling  young  fellow,  full  of  ready 
courtesies  to  all  his  friends  in  the  village  ;  yet,  none  the 
less  as  full  of  thoughtless  cruelties  to  his  friends  at 

For  the  rest,  he  had  nothing  to  do,  and  was  scarcely  to 
blame  if  he  could  not  devote  sixteen  hours  a  day  to- 
writing  verses  for  the  Leeds  Mercury,  his  only  ostensible- 
occupation.  It  seems  incredible  that  Mr.  Bronte,  who 
well  understood  the  peculiar  temptations  to  which  his. 
son  lay  open,  could  have  suffered  him  to  loaf  about  the 
village,  doing  nothing,  month  after  month,  lured  into  ill 
by  no  set  purpose,  but  by  a  weak  social  temper  and 
foolish  friends.  Yet  so  it  was,. and  with  such  training,, 
little  hope  of  salvation  could  there  be  for  that  vain, 
somewhat  clever,  untruthful,  fascinating  boy. 

So  things  went  on,  drearily  enough  in  reality,  though 
perhaps  more  pleasantly  in  seeming — for  Branwell,  with 


his  love  of  approbation  and  ready  affectionateness,  took 
all  trouble  consistent  with  self-indulgence  to  avoid  the 
noise  of  his  misdemeanours  reaching  home.  Thus  things 
went  on  till  Charlotte  returned  from  Miss  Wooler's  with 
little  Anne  in  the  midsummer  holidays  of  1836. 

An  interval  of  happiness  to  lonely  Emily ;  Charlotte's 
friend  came  to  the  grey  cold-looking  Parsonage,  enliven- 
ing that  sombre  place  with  her  gay  youth  and  sweet 
looks.  Home  with  four  young  girls  in  it  was  more- 
attractive  to  Branwell  than  the  alluring  parlour  of  the 
"  Black  Bull."  The  harvest  moon  that  year  can  have 
looked  on  no  happier  meeting.  "  It  would  not  be  right," 
says  the  survivor  of  those  eager  spirits,  "  to  pass  over  one 
record  which  should  be  made  of  the  sisters'  lives  to- 
gether, after  their  school-days,  and  before  they  were 
broken  in  health  by  their  efforts  to  support  themselves, 
that  at  this  time  they  had  all  a  taste  of  happiness  and 
enjoyment.  They  were  beginning  to  feel  conscious  of 
their  powers,  they  were  rich  in  each  other's  companion- 
ship, their  health  was  good,  their  spirits  were  high,  there 
was  often  joy ousness  and  mirth  ;  they  commented  on  what 
they  read  ;  analysed  articles  and  their  writers  also  ;  the 
perfection  of  unrestrained  talk  and  intelligence  brightened 
the  close  of  the  days  which  were  passing  all  too  swiftly. 
The  evening  march  in  the  sitting-room,  a  constant  habit 
learned  at  school,  kept  time  with  their  thoughts  and 
feelings,  it  was  free  and  rapid  ;  they  marched  in  pairs, 
Emily  and  Anne,  Charlotte  and  her  friend,  with  arms 
twined  round  each  other  in  child-like  fashion,  except 
when  Charlotte,  in  an  exuberance  of  spirit,  would  for  a, 
moment  start  away,  make  a  graceful  pirouette  (though 
she  had  never  learned  to  dance)  and  return  to  her 
So  the  evenings  passed  and  the  days,  in  happy  fashion- 


for  a  little  while.  Then  Charlotte  and  Anne  went  back 
to  Miss  Wooler's,  and  Emily,  too,  took  up  the  gauntlet 
-against  necessity.  She  was  not  of  a  character  to  let  the 
distastefulness  of  any  duty  hinder  her  from  undertaking 
it.  She  was  very  stern  in  her  dealings  with  herself, 
though  tender  to  the  erring,  and  anxious  to  bear  the 
burdens  of  the  weak.  She  allowed  no  one  but  herself  to 
decide  what  it  behoved  her  to  do.  She  could  not  see 
Charlotte  labour,  and  not  work  herself.  At  home  she 
worked,  it  is  true,  harder  than  servants ;  but  she  felt  it 
right  not  only  to  work,  but  to  earn.  So,  having  recovered 
her  natural  strength,  she  left  Haworth  in  September, 
and  Charlotte  writes  from  school  to  her  friend  :  "  My 
sister  Emily  has  gone  into  a  situation  as  teacher  in  a 
large  school  near  Halifax.  I  have  had  one  letter  from 
her  since  her  departure ;  it  gives  an  appalling  account  of 
her  duties  ;  hard  labour  from  six  in  the  morning  to  eleven 
at  night,  with  only  one  half-hour  of  exercise  between. 
This  is  slavery.  I  fear  she  can  never  stand  it." 

She  stood  it,  however,  all  that  term ;  came  back  to 
Haworth  for  a  brief  rest  at  Christmas,  and  again  left  it 
for  the  hated  life  she  led,  drudging  among  strangers. 
But  when  spring  came  back,  with  its  feverish  weakness, 
with  its  beauty  and  memories,  to  that  stern  place  of 
exile,  she  failed.  Her  health  broke  down,  shattered  by 
long-resisted  homesickness.  Weary  and  mortified  at 
heart,  Emily  again  went  back  to  seek  life  and  happiness 
on  the  wild  moors  of  Haworth. 

t    61    ) 



THE  next  two  years  passed  very  solitarily  for  Emily 
at  Haworth  ;  the  Brontes  were  too  poor  for  all  to  stay  at 
home,  and  since  it  was  definitely  settled  that  Emily  could 
not  live  away,  she  worked  hard  at  home  while  her  sisters 
went  out  in  the  world  to  gain  their  bread.  She  had  no 
friend  besides  her  sisters  ;  far-off  Anne  was  her  only  con- 
fidant. Outside  her  own  circle  the  only  person  that  she 
cared  to  meet  was  Charlotte's  friend  Ellen,  and,  of  course, 
Ellen  did  not  come  to  Haworth  while  Charlotte  was  away. 
Branwell,  too,  was  absent.  His  first  engagement  was  as 
usher  in  a  school ;  but,  mortified  by  the  boys'  sarcasms 
on  his  red  hair  and  "  downcast  smallness,"  he  speedily 
threw  up  his  situation  and  returned  to  Haworth  to  con- 
fide his  wounded  vanity  to  the  tender  mercies  of  the 
rough  and  valiant  Emily,  or  to  loaf  about  the  village 
seeking  readier  consolation. 

Then  he  went  as  private  tutor  to  a  family  in  Broughton- 
in-Furness.  One  letter  of  his  thence  despatched  to- 
some  congenial  spirit  in  Haworth,  long  since  dead,  has 
been  lent  to  me  by  the  courtesy  of  Mr.  William  Wood, 
one  of  the  last  of  Branwell's  companions,  in  whose 
possession  the  torn,  faded  sheet  remains.  Much  of  it 
is  unreadable  from  accidental  rents  and  the  purposed 
excision  of  private  passages,  and  part  of  that  which  can 
be  read  cannot  be  quoted  ;  such  as  it  is,  the  letter  is 

•62  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

valuable  as  showing  what  things  in  life  seemed  desirable 
.and  worthy  of  attainment  to  this  much-hoped-in  brother 
of  the  austere  Emily,  the  courageous  Charlotte,  the  pious 

"  Broughton-in-Furness,  March  15. 


"Don't  think  I  have  forgotten  you  though  I  have 
•delayed  so  long  in  writing  to  you.  It  was  my  purpose 
to  send  you  a  yarn  as  soon  as  I  could  find  materials  to 
spin  one  with.  And  it  is  only  just  now  I  have  had  time 
to  turn  myself  round  and  know  where  I  am. 

"  If  you  saw  me  now  you  would  not  know  me,  and 
you  would  laugh  to  hear  the  character  the  people  give 
me.  Oh,  the  falsehood  and  hypocrisy  of  this  world  !  I 
am  fixed  in  a  little  town  retired  by  the  seashore,  em- 
bowered in  woody  hills  that  rise  round  me,  huge,  rocky, 
.and  capped  with  clouds.  My  employer  is  a  retired 
county  magistrate  and  large  landholder,  of  a  right 
Jiearty,  generous  disposition.  His  wife  is  a  quiet,  silent, 
amiable  woman ;  his  sons  are  two  fine,  spirited  lads. 
My  landlord  is  a  respectable  surgeon,  and  six  days  out 
of  seven  as  drunk  as  a  lord ;  his  wife  is  a  bustling, 
chattering,  kind-hearted  soul ;  his  daughter — oh  !  death 
,and  damnation !  Well,  what  am  I  ?  that  is,  what  do 
they  think  I  am  ? — a  most  sober,  abstemious,  patient, 
mild-hearted,  virtuous,  gentlemanly  philosopher,  the 
picture  of  good  works,  the  treasure-house  of  righteous 
thought.  Cards  are  shuffled  under  the  tablecloth,  glasses 
are  thrust  into  the  cupboard,  if  I  enter  the  room.  I  take 
•neither  spirit,  wine,  nor  malt  liquors.  I  dress  in  black, 
.and  smile  like  a  saint  or  martyr.  Every  lady  says, 
4  What  a  good  young  gentleman  is  the  Postlethwaites' 
tutor.'  This  is  fact,  as  I  am  a  living  soul,  and  right 
-comfortably  do  I  laugh  at  them  ;  but  in  this  humour  do 


I  mean  them  to  continue.  I  took  a  half-year's  farewell 
of  old  friend  whisky  at  Kendal  the  night  after  I  [left]. 
There  was  a  party  of  gentlemen  at  the  Royal  Hotel ;  I 
joined  them  and  ordered  in  supper  and  'toddy  as  hot  as 
Hell/  They  thought  I  was  a  physician,  and  put  me 
into  the  chair.  I  gave  them  some  toasts  of  the  stiffest 

sort washing  them  down  at  the  same  time  till 

the  room  spun  round  and  the  candles  danced  in  their 
-eyes.  One  was  a  respectable  old  gentleman  with 
powdered  head,  rosy  cheeks,  fat  paunch,  and  ringed 
fingers  ...  he  led  off  with  a  speech,  and  in  two 
minutes,  in  the  very  middle  of  a  grand  sentence,  stopped, 
wagged  his  head,  looked  wildly  round,  stammered, 
coughed,  stopped  again,  called  for  his  slippers,  and  so 
the  waiter  helped  him  to  bed.  Next  a  tall  Irish  squire 
and  a  native  of  the  land  of  Israel  began  to  quarrel  about 
their  countries,  and  in  the  warmth  of  argument  dis- 
charged their  glasses  each  at  his  neighbour's  throat, 
instead  of  his  own.  I  recommended  blisters,  bleeding 
[here  illegible],  so  I  flung  my  tumbler  on  the  floor,  too, 
and  swore  I'd  join  old  Ireland.  A  regular  rumpus 
ensued,  but  we  were  tamed  at  last,  and  I  found  myself 
in  bed  next  morning,  with  a  bottle  of  porter,  a  glass,  and 
corkscrew  beside  me.  Since  then  I  have  not  tasted  any- 
thing stronger  than  milk  and  water,  nor,  I  hope,  shall  I 
till  I  return  at  Midsummer,  when  we  will  see  about  it. 
I  am  getting  as  fat  as  Prince  Win  at  Springhead  and  as 
godly  as  his  friend  Parson  Winterbottom.  My  hand 
shakes  no  longer :  I  write  to  the  bankers  at  Ulverston 
with  Mr.  Postlethwaite,  and  sit  drinking  tea  and  talking 
slander  with  old  ladies.  As  to  the  young  ones,  I  have 
one  sitting  by  me  just  now,  fair-faced,  blue-eyed,  dark- 
haired,  sweet  eighteen.  She  little  thinks  the  Devil  is  as 
near  her.  I  was  delighted  to  see  thy  note,  old  Squire, 


but  don't  understand  one  sentence — perhaps  you  will 
know  what  I  mean ^ 

How  are  all  about  you  ?  I  long  .  .  .  [all  torn  next] 
everything  about  Haworth  folk.  Does  little  Nosey  think 
I  have  forgotten  him.  No,  by  Jupiter!  nor  is  Alick 
either.  I'll  send  him  a  remembrance  one  of  these  days.. 
But  I  must  talk  to  some  one  prettier  ;  so  good  night,, 
old  boy.  Write  directly,  and  believe  me  to  be  thine, 


Branwell's  boasted  reformation  was  not  kept  up  for 
long.  Soon  he  came  back  as  heartless,  as  affectionate, 
as  vain,  as  unprincipled  as  ever,  to  laugh  and  loiter  about 
the  steep  street  of  Haworth.  Then  he  went  to  Bradford 
as  a  portrait-painter,  and — so  impressive  is  audacity — 
actually  succeeded  for  some  months  in  gaining  a  living 
there,  although  his  education  was  oi  the  slenderest,  and, 
judging  from  the  specimens  still  treasured  in  Haworth, 
his  natural  talent  on  a  level  with  that  of  the  average 
new  student  in  any  school  of  art.  His  tawny  mane,  his 
pose  of  untaught  genius,  his  verses  in  the  poet's  corner 
of  the  paper  could  not  for  ever  keep  afloat  this  un- 
taught and  thriftless  portrait-painter  of  twenty.  Soon 
there  came  an  end  to  his  painting  there.  He  dis- 
appeared from  Bradford  suddenly,  heavily  in  debt,  and 
was  lost  to  sight,  until  unnerved,  a  drunkard,  and  an 
opium-eater,  he  came  back  to  home  and  Emily  at 

Meanwhile  impetuous  Charlotte  was  growing  nervous 
and  weak,  gentle  Anne  consumptive  and  dejected,  in 
their  work  away  from  home  ;  and  Emily  was  toiling  from 
dawn  till  dusk  with  her  old  servant  Tabby  for  the  old 


aunt  who  never  cared  for  her,  and  the  old  father  always 
courteous  and  distant. 

They  knew  the  face  of  necessity  more  nearly  than  any 
friend's,  those  Bronte  girls,  and  the  pinch  of  poverty  was 
for  their  own  foot  ;  therefore  were  they  always  conside- 
rate to  any  that  fell  into  the  same  plight.  During  the 
Christmas  holidays  of  1837,  old  Tabby  fell  on  the  steep 
and  slippery  street  and  broke  her  leg.  She  was  already 
nearly  seventy,  and  could  do  little  work  ;  now  her  acci- 
dent laid  her  completely  aside,  leaving  Emily,  Charlotte, 
and  Anne  to  spend  their  Christmas  holidays  in  doing 
the  housework  and  nursing  the  invalid.  Miss  Branwell, 
anxious  to  spare  the  girls'  hands  and  her  brother-in-law's 
pocket,  insisted  that  Tabby  should  be  sent  to  her  sister's 
house  to  be  nursed  and  another  servant  engaged  for  the 
Parsonage.  Tabby,  she  represented,  was  fairly  well  off, 
her  sister  in  comfortable  circumstances ;  the  Parsonage 
kitchen  might  supply  her  with  broths  and  jellies  in 
plenty,  but  why  waste  the  girls'  leisure  and  scanty  patri- 
mony on  an  old  servant  competent  to  keep  herself.  Mr. 
Bronte  was  finally  persuaded,  and  his  decision  made 
known.  But  the  girls  were  not  persuaded.  Tabby,  so 
they  averred,  was  one  of  the  family,  and  they  refused  to 
abandon  her  in  sickness.  They  did  not  say  much,  but 
they  did  more  than  say — they  starved.  When  the  tea 
was  served,  the  three  sat  silent,  fasting.  Next  morning 
found  their  will  yet  stronger  than  their  hunger — no 
breakfast.  They  did  the  day's  work,  and  dinner  came. 
Still  they  held  out,  wan  and  sunk.  Then  the  superiors 
gave  in. 

The  girls  gained  their  victory — no  stubborn  freak,  but 
the  right  to  make  a  generous  sacrifice,  and  to  bear  an 
honourable  burden. 

That  Christmas,  of  course,  there  cou'd  be  no  visiting  • 


nor  the  next.     Tabby  was  slow  in  getting  well ;  but  she 
did  not  outweary  the  patience  of  her  friends. 

Two  years  later,  Charlotte  writes  to  her  old  school- 
fellow : — 

"  December  21,  1839. 

"We  are  at  present,  and  have  been  during  the  last 
month,  rather  busy,  as  for  that  space  of  time  we  have 
been  without  a  servant,  except  a  little  girl  to  run  errands. 
Poor  Tabby  became  so  lame  that  she  was  at  length 
obliged  to  leave  us.  She  is  residing  with  her  sister,  in  a 
little  house  of  her  own,  which  she  bought  with  her  own 
savings  a  year  or  two  since.  She  is  very  comfortable, 
and  wants  nothing.  As  she  is  near  we  see  her  very  often. 
In  the  meantime,  Emily  and  I  are  sufficiently  busy,  as 
you  may  suppose  :  I  manage  the  ironing  and  keep  the 
rooms  clean ;  Emily  does  the  baking  and  attends  to  the 
kitchen.  We  are  such  odd  animals  that  we  prefer  this 
mode  of  contrivance  to  having  a  new  face  among  us. 
Besides,  we  do  not  despair  of  Tabby's  return,  and  she 
shall  not  be  supplanted  by  a  stranger  in  her  absence.  I 
excited  aunt's  wrath  very  much  by  burning  the  clothes 
the  first  time  I  attempted  to  iron ;  but  I  do  better  now. 
Human  feelings  are  queer  things ;  I  am  much  happier 
blackleading  the  stoves,  making  the  beds,  and  sweeping 
the  floors  at  home  than  I  should  be  living  like  a  fine 
lady  anywhere  else."* 

The  year  1840  found  Emily,  Branwell,  and  Charlotte 
all  at  home  together.  Unnerved  and  dissipated  as  he 
was,  Branwell  was  still  a  welcome  presence;  his  gay 
talk  still  awakened  glad  promises  in  the  ambitious  and 
loving  household  which  hoped  all  things  from  him.  His 
mistakes  and  faults  they  pardoned  ;  thinking,  poor  souls, 

*  Mrs.  Gaskell. 


that  the  strong  passions  which  led  him  astray  betokened 
a  strong  character  and  not  a  powerless  will. 

It  was  still  to  Branwell  that  they  looked  for  the  fame 
of  the  family.  Their  poems,  their  stories,  were  to  these 
girls  but  a  legitimate  means  of  amusement  and  relief. 
The  serious  business  of  their  life  was  to  teach,  to  cook, 
to  clean  ;  to  earn  or  save  the  mere  expense  of  their 
existence.  No  dream  of  literary  fame  gave  a  purpose  to 
the  quiet  days  of  Emily  Bronte.  Charlotte  and  Bran- 
well,  more  impulsive,  more  ambitious,  had  sent  their 
work  to  Southey,  to  Coleridge,  to  Wordsworth,  in  vain, 
pathetic  hope  of  encouragement,  or  recognition.  Not 
so  the  sterner  Emily,  to  whom  expression  was  at  once  a 
necessity  and  a  regret.  Emily's  brain,  Emily's  locked 
desk,  these  and  nothing  else  knew  the  degree  of  her 
passion,  her  genius,  her  power.  And  yet  acknowledged 
power  would  have  been  sweet  to  that  dominant  spirit. 

Meanwhile  the  immediate  difficulty  was  to  earn  a 
living.  Even  those  patient  and  courageous  girls  could 
not  accept  the  thought  of  a  whole  lifetime  spent  in  dreary 
governessing  by  Charlotte  and  Anne,  in  solitary  drudgery 
by  homekeeping  Emily.  One  way  out  of  this  hateful 
vista  seemed  not  impossible  of  attainment.  For  years  it 
was  the  wildest  hope,  the  cherished  dream  of  the  author 
of  'Wuthering  Heights'  and  the  author  of  'Villette.' 
And  what  was  this  dear  and  daring  ambition  ? — to  keep 
a  ladies'  school  at  Haworth. 

Far  enough  off,  difficult  to  reach,  it  looked  to  them, 
this  paltry  common-place  ideal  of  theirs.  For  the  house 
with  its  four  bedrooms  would  have  to  be  enlarged ;  for 
the  girls'  education,  with  its  Anglo-French  and  stumbling 
music,  would  have  to  be  adorned  by  the  requisite  accom- 
plishments. This  would  take  time ;  time  and  money ; 
two  luxuries  most  hard  to  get  for  the  Vicar  of  Haworth 's 

F  2 

68  EMIL  Y  BRONT&. 

harassed  daughters.  They  would  sigh,  and  suddenly 
stop  in  their  making  of  plans  and  drawing  up  of  circulars. 
It  seemed  so  difficult. 

One  person,  indeed,  might  help  them.  Miss  Branwell 
had  saved  out  of  her  annuity  of  £50  a  year.  She  had  a 
certain  sum  ;  small  enough,  but  to  Charlotte  and  Emily 
it  seemed  as  potent  as  the  fairy's  wand.  The  question 
was,  would  she  risk  it  ? 

It  seemed  not.  The  old  lady  had  always  chiefly 
meant  her  savings  for  the  dear  prodigal  who  bore  her 
name,  and  Emily  and  Charlotte  were  not  her  favourites. 
The  girls  indeed  only  asked  for  a  loan,  but  she  doubted, 
hesitated,  doubted  again.  They  were  too  proud  to  take 
an  advantage  so  grudgingly  proffered ;  and  while  their 
talk  was  still  of  what  means  they  might  employ,  while 
they  still  painfully  toiled  through  improper  French 
novels  as  "  the  best  substitute  for  French  conversation," 
they  gave  up  the  dream  for  the  present,  and  Charlotte 
again  looked  out  for  a  situation.  Nearly  a  year  elapsed 
before  she  found  it — a  happy  year,  full  of  plans  and  talks 
with  Emily  and  free  from  any  more  pressing  anxiety 
than  Anne's  delicate  health  always  gave  her  sisters. 
Branwell  was  away  and  doing  well  as  station-master  at 
Luddendenfoot,  "  set  off  to  seek  his  fortune  in  the  wild, 
wandering,  adventurous,  romantic,  knight-errant-like 
capacity  of  "clerk  on  the  Leeds  and  Manchester  Rail- 
way." Ellen  came  to  stay  at  Haworth  in  the  summer  ; 
it  was  quite  sociable  and  lively  now  in  the  grey  house  on 
the  moors ;  for,  compelled  by  failing  health,  Mr.  Bronte 
had  engaged  the  help  of  a  curate,  and  the  Haworth 
curate  brought  his  clerical  friends  about  the  house,  to 
the  great  disgust  of  Emily,  and  the  half-sentimental 
fluttering  of  pensive  Anne,  which  laid  on  Charlotte  the 
responsibility  of  talking  for  all  three. 


In  the  holidays  when  Anne  was  at  home  all  the  old 
glee  and  enjoyment  of  life  returned.  There  was,  more- 
over, the  curate,  "bonnie,  pleasant,  light-hearted,  good- 
tempered,  generous,  careless,  crafty,  fickle,  and  uncleri- 
cal,"  to  add  piquancy  to  the  situation.  "  He  sits  oppo- 
site to  Anne  at  church,  sighing  softly,  and  looking  out 
of  the  corners  of  his  eyes — and  she  is  so  quiet,  her  look 
so  downcast ;  they  are  a  picture,"  says  merry  Charlotte. 
This  first  curate  at  Haworth  was  exempted  from  Emily's 
liberal  scorn  ;  he  was  a  favourite  at  the  vicarage,  a  clever, 
bright-spirited,  and  handsome  youth,  greatly  in  Miss 
Branwell's  good  graces.  He  would  tease  and  flatter  the 
old  lady  with  such  graciousness  as  made  him  ever  sure 
of  a  welcome ;  so  that  his  daily  visits  to  Mr.  Bronte's 
study  were  nearly  always  followed  up  by  a  call  in  the 
opposite  parlour,  when  Miss  Branwell  would  frequently 
leave  her  upstairs  retreat  and  join  in  the  lively  chatter. 
She  always  presided  at  the  tea-table,  at  which  the 
curate  was  a  frequent  guest,  and  her  nieces  would  be 
kept  well  amused  all  through  the  tea  hour  by  the 
curate's  piquant  sallies,  baffling  the  old  lady  in  her  little 
schemes  of  control  over  the  three  high-spirited  girls. 
None  enjoyed  the  fun  more  than  quiet  Emily,  always 
present  and  amused,  "  her  countenance  glimmering  as  it 
always  did  when  she  enjoyed  herself,"  Miss  Ellen  Nussey 
tells  me.  Many  happy  legends,  too  familiar  to  be  quoted 
here,  record  the  light  heart  and  gay  spirit  that  Emily 
bore  in  those  untroubled  days.  Foolish,  pretty  little 
stories  of  her  dauntless  protection  of  the  other  girls  from 
too  pressing  suitors.  Never  was  duenna  so  gallant,  so 
gay,  and  so  inevitable.  In  compliment  to  the  excellence 
of  her  swashing  and  martial  outside  on  such  occasions, 
the  little  household  dubbed  her  "  The  Major,"  a  name 


that  stuck  to  her  in  days  when  the  dash  and  gaiety  of 
her  soldiery  bearing  was  sadly  sobered  down,  and  only 
the  courage  and  dauntless  heart  remained. 

But  in  these  early  days  of  1841,  Emily  was  as  happy 
as  other  healthy  country  girls  in  a  congenial  home. 
"  She  did  what  we  did,"  says  Miss  Nussey,  "  and  never 
absented  herself  when  she  could  avoid  it — life  at  this 
period  must  have  been  sweet  and  pleasant  to  her."  An 
equal  unchequered  life,  in  which  trifles  seemed  of  great 
importance.  We  hear  of  the  little  joys  and  adventures 
of  those  days,  so  faithfully  and  long  remembered,  with  a 
pathetic  pleasurableness.  So  slight  they  are,  and  all 
their  colour  gone,  like  pressed  roses,  though  a  faint 
sweetness  yet  remains.  The  disasters  when  Miss  Bran- 
well  was  cross  and  in  no  humour  to  receive  her  guests  ; 
the  long-expected  excitement  of  a  walk  over  the  moors 
to  Keighley  where  the  curate  was  to  give  a  lecture,  the 
alarm  and  flurry  when  the  curate,  finding  none  of  the 
four  girls  had  ever  received  a  valentine,  proposed  to 
send  one  to  each  on  the  next  Valentine's  Day.  "  No, 
no,  the  elders  would  never  allow  it,  and  yet  it  would 
certainly  be  an  event  to  receive  a  valentine ;  still,  there 
would  be  such  a  lecture  from  Miss  Branwell."  "Oh 
no,"  he  said,  "  I  shall  post  them  at  Bradford."  And  to 
Bradford  he  walked,  ten  miles  and  back  again,  so  that 
on  the  eventful  I4th  of  February  the  anxiously-expected 
postman  brought  four  valentines,  all  on  delicately  tinted 
paper,  all  enhanced  by  a  verse  of  original  poetry,  touch- 
ing on  some  pleasant  characteristic  in  each  recipient. 
What  merriment  and  comparing  of  notes  !  What  pleased 
feigning  of  indignation  !  The  girls  determined  to  reward 
him  with  a  Rowland  for  his  Oliver,  and  Charlotte  wrote 
some  rhymes  full  of  fun  and  raillery  which  all  the  girls 


signed — Emily  entering  into  all  this  with  much  spirit 
and  amusement — and  finally  despatched  in  mystery  and 
secret  glee. 

At  last  this  pleasant  fooling  came  to  an  end.  Char- 
lotte advertised  for  a  place,  and  found  it.  While  she  was 
away  she  had  a  letter  from  Miss  Wooler,  offering  Char- 
lotte the  goodwill  of  her  school  at  Dewsbury  Moor.  It 
was  a  chance  not  to  be  lost,  although  what  inducement 
Emily  and  Charlotte  could  offer  to  their  pupils  it  is  not 
easy  to  imagine.  But  it  was  above  all  things  necessary 
to  make  a  home  where  delicate  Anne  might  be  sheltered, 
where  homesick  Emily  could  be  happy,  where  Charlotte 
could  have  time  to  write,  where  all  might  live  and  work 
together.  Miss  Wooler's  offer  was  immediately  accepted. 
Miss  Branwell  was  induced  to  lend  the  girls  £100.  No 
answer  came  from  Miss  Wooler.  Then  ambitious  Char- 
lotte, from  her  situation  away,  wrote  to  Miss  Branwell 
at  Haworth  *  : — 

"September  29,  1841. 


"  I  have  heard  nothing  of  Miss  Wooler  yet  since  I 
wrote  to  her,  intimating  that  I  would  accept  her  offer.  I 
cannot  conjecture  the  reason  of  this  long  silence,  unless 
some  unforeseen  impediment  has  occurred  in  concluding 
the  bargain.  Meantime  a  plan  has  been  suggested  and 

approved  by  Mr.  and  Mrs. and  others  which  I  wish 

now  to  impart  to  you.  My  friends  recommend,  if  I 
desire  to  secure  permanent  success,  to  delay  commen- 
cing the  school  for  six  months  longer,  and  by  all  means 
to  contrive,  by  hook  or  by  crook,  to  spend  the  interven- 
ing time  in  some  school  on  the  Continent.  They  say 
schools  in  England  are  so  numerous,  competition  so 
great,  that  without  some  such  step  towards  attaining 

*  Mrs.  Gaskell. 


superiority,  we  shall  probably  have  a  very  hard  struggle 
and  may  fail  in  the  end.  They  say,  moreover,  that  the 
loan  of^ioo,  which  you  have  been  so  kind  as  to  offer  us, 
will  perhaps  not  be  all  required  now,  as  Miss  Wooler 
will  lend  us  the  furniture ;  and  that,  if  the  speculation  is 
intended  to  be  a  good  and  successful  one,  half  the  sum, 
at  least,  ought  to  be  laid  out  in  the  manner  I  have 
mentioned,  thereby  insuring  a  more  speedy  repayment 
both  of  interest  and  principal. 

"  I  would  not  go  to  France  or  to  Paris.  I  would  go 
to  Brussels,  in  Belgium.  The  cost  of  the  journey  there, 
at  the  dearest  rate  of  travelling,  would  be  £5,  living  is 
there  little  more  than  half  as  dear  as  it  is  in  England, 
and  the  facilities  for  education  are  equal  or  superior  to 
any  place  in  Europe.  In  half  a  year  I  could  acquire  a 
thorough  familiarity  with  French.  I  could  improve 
greatly  in  Italian  and  even  get  a  dash  at  German ;  i.e. 
providing  my  health  continued  as  good  as  it  is  now.  .  .  . 

"These  are  advantages  which  would  turn  to  real 
account  when  we  actually  commenced  a  school ;  and,  if 
Emily  could  share  them  with  me,  we  could  take  a 
footing  in  the  world  afterwards  which  we  never  can  do 
now.  I  say  Emily  instead  of  Anne ;  for  Anne  might 
take  her  turn  at  some  future  period,  if  our  school 
answered.  I  feel  certain,  while  I  am  writing,  that  you 
will  see  the  propriety  of  what  I  say.  You  always  like 
to  use  your  money  to  the  best  advantage.  You  are  not 
fond  of  making  shabby  purchases  ;  when  you  do  confer 
a  favour  it  is  often  done  in  style  ;  and  depend  upon  it 
£$o  or  ;£ioo,  thus  laid  out,  would  be  well  employed. 
Of  course,  I  know  no  other  friend  in  the  world  to  whom 
I  could  apply  on  this  subject  besides  yourself.  I  feel  an 
absolute  conviction  that  if  this  advantage  were  allowed 
us,  it  would  be  the  making  of  us  for  life.  Papa  will 


perhaps  think  it  a  wild  and  ambitious  scheme  ;  but  who 
•ever  rose  in  the  world  without  ambition.  When  he  left 
Ireland  to  go  to  Cambridge  University  he  was  as 
ambitious  as  I  am  now." 

That  was  true.  It  must  have  struck  a  vibrant  chord 
in  the  old  man's  breast.  Absorbed  in  parish  gossip  and 
his  '  Cottage  Poems/  caring  no  longer  for  the  world  but 
only  for  newspaper  reports  of  it,  actively  idle,  living  a 
resultless  life  of  ascetic  self-indulgence,  the  Vicar  of 
Haworth  was  very  proud  of  his  energetic  past.  He  had 
always  held  it  up  to  his  children  as  a  model  for  them  to 
copy.  Charlotte's  appeal  would  certainly  secure  her 
father  as  an  ally  to  her  cause.  Miss  Branwell,  on  the 
other  hand,  would  not  wish  for  displays  of  ambition 
in  her  already  too  irrepressible  nieces.  But  she  was 
getting  old ;  it  would  be  a  comfort  to  her,  after  all,  to 
see  them  settled,  and  prosperously  settled  through  her 
generosity.  "  I  look  to  you,  Aunt,  to  help  us.  I  think 
you  will  not  refuse,"  Charlotte  had  said.  How,  indeed, 
could  Miss  Branwell,  living  in  their  home,  be  happy, 
and  refuse  ? 

Yet  many  discussions  went  on  before  anxious  Char- 
iotte  got  the  answer.  Emily,  whom  it  concerned  as 
nearly,  must  have  listened  waiting  in  a  strange  perturba- 
tion of  hope  and  fear.  To  leave  home — she  knew  well 
what  it  meant.  Since  she  was  six  years  old  she  had 
never  left  Yorkshire ;  but  those  months  of  wearying 
homesickness  at  Roe  Head,  at  Halifax,  must  have  most 
painfully  rushed  back  upon  her  memory.  Haworth  was 
health,  content,  the  very  possibility  of  existence  to  this 
•girl.  To  leave  Haworth  for  a  strange  town  beyond  the 
seas,  to  see  strange  faces  all  round,  to  hear  and  speak  a 
strange  language,  Charlotte's  welcome  prospect  of  ad- 
venture must  have  taken  a  nightmare  shape  to  Emily. 


And  for  this  she  must  hope ;  this  she  must  desire,  plead 
for  if  necessary,  and  at  least  uphold.  For  Charlotte  said 
the  thing  was  essential  to  their  future  ;  and  in  all  details 
of  management,  Charlotte's  word  was  law  to  her  sisters. 
Even  Emily,  the  independent,  indomitable  Emily,  so 
resolute  in  keeping  to  any  chosen  path,  looked  to  Char- 
lotte to  choose  the  way  in  practical  affairs. 

At  length  consent  was  secured,  written  and  despatched. 
Gleeful. Charlotte  gave  notice  to  her  employers  and  soon 
set  out  for  home.  There  was  much  to  be  done.  "  Letters 
to  write  to  Brussels,  to  Lille  and  to  London,  lots  of  work 
to  be  done,  besides  clothes  to  repair."  It  was  decided 
that  the  sisters  should  give  up  their  chance  of  the  school 
at  Dewsbury  Moor,  since  the  site  was  low  and  damp,  and 
had  not  suited  Anne.  On  their  return  from  Brussels  they 
were  to  set  up  a  school  in  some  healthy  seaside  place  in 
the  East  Riding.  Burlington  was  the  place  where  their 
fancy  chiefly  dwelt.  To  this  beautiful  and  healthy  spot, 
fronting  the  sea,  eager  pupils  would  flock  for  the  benefit 
of  instruction  by  three  daughters  of  a  clergyman,  "  edu- 
cated abroad"  (for  six  months)  speaking  thorough 
French,  improved  Italian  and  a  dash  of  German.  A 
scintillating  programme  of  accomplishment  danced  before 
their  eyes. 

There  were,  however,  many  practical  difficulties  to  be 
vanquished  first.  The  very  initial  step,  the  choice  of  a 
school,  was  hard  to  take.  Charlotte  writes  to  Ellen  : — 

"January  20,  1842. 

"  We  expect  to  leave  England  in  about  three  weeks,, 
but  we  are  not  yet  certain  as  to  the  day,  as  it  will  depend 
on  the  convenience  of  a  French  lady  now  in  London, 
Madame  Marzials,  under  whose  escort  we  are  to  sail. 
Our  place  of  destination  is  changed.  Papa  received  an  un- 


favourable  account  from  Mr.  or  rather  from  Mrs.  Jenkins 
of  the  French  schools  in  Bruxelles,  representing  them  as 
of  an  inferior  caste  in  many  respects.  On  further  inquiry 
an  institution  at  Lille  in  the  North  of  France  was  highly 
recommended  by  Baptist  Noel  and  other  clergymen, 
and  to  that  place  it  is  decided  that  we  are  to  go.  The 
terms  are  ^"50  a  year  for  each  pupil  for  board  and  French 
alone ;  but  a  separate  room  will  be  allowed  for  this  sum  ;. 
without  this  indulgence  they  are  something  lower.  I 
considered  it  kind  in  aunt  to  consent  to  an  extra  sum 
for  a  separate  room.  We  shall  find  it  a  great  privilege 
in  many  ways.  I  regret  the  change  from  Bruxelles  to 
Lille  on  many  accounts." 

For  Charlotte  to  regret  the  change  was  for  an  improve- 
ment to  be  discovered.  She  had  set  her  heart  on  going 
to  Brussels  ;  Mrs.  Jenkins  redoubled  her  efforts  and  at 
length  discovered  the  Pensionnat  of  Madame  H£ger  in 
the  Rue  d'Isabelle. 

Thither,  as  all  the  world  is  aware,  Charlotte  and  Emily 
Bronte,  both  of  age,  went  to  school. 

"  We  shall  leave  England  in  about  three  weeks."  The 
words  had  a  ring  of  happy  daring  in  Charlotte's  ears. 
Since  at  six  years  of  age  she  had  set  out  alone  to  dis- 
cover the  Golden  City,  romance,  discovery,  adventure, 
were  sweet  promises  to  her.  She  had  often  wished  to 
see  the  world  ;  now  she  will  see  it.  She  had  thirsted  for 
knowledge  ;  here  is  the  source.  She  longed  to  add  new 
notes  to  that  gamut  of  human  character  which  she  could 
play  with  so  profound  a  science ;  she  shall  make  a 
masterpiece  out  of  her  acquisitions.  At  this  time  her 
letters  are  full  of  busy  gaiety,  giving  accounts  of  her 
work,  making  plans,  making  fun.  As  happy  and 
hopeful  a  young  woman  as  any  that  dwells  in  Haworth 


Emily  is  different.  It  is  she  who  imagined  the  girl  in 
heaven  who  broke  her  heart  with  weeping  for  earth,  till 
the  angels  cast  her  out  in  anger,  and  flung  her  into  the 
middle  of  the  heath,  to  wake  there  sobbing  for  joy.  She 
did  not  care  to  know  fresh  people  ;  she  hates  strangers  ;  to 
walk  with  her  bulldog,  Keeper,  over  the  moors  is  her 
best  adventure.  To  learn  new  things  is  very  well,  but  she 
prizes  above  everything  originality  and  the  wild  provincial 
flavour  of  her  home.  What  she  strongly,  deeply  loves  is 
her  moorland  home,  her  own  people,  the  creatures  on  the 
heath,  the  dogs  who  always  feed  from  her  hands,  the 
-flowers  in  the  bleak  garden  that  only  grow  at  all  because 
of  the  infinite  care  she  lavishes  upon  them.  The  stunted 
thorn  under  which  she  sits  to  write  her  poems,  is  more 
beautiful  to  her  than  the  cedars  of  Lebanon.  To  each 
and  all  of  these  she  must  now  bid  farewell.  It  is  in  a 
different  tone  that  she  says  in  her  adieus,  "  We  shall 
leave  England  in  about  three  weeks." 

(    77 


THE  Rue  d'Isabelle  had  a  character  of  its  own.  It  lies 
below  your  feet  as  you  stand  in  the  Rue  Royale,  near 
the  statue  of  General  Beliard.  Four  flights  of  steps 
lead  down  to  the  street,  half  garden,  half  old  houses, 
with  at  one  end  a  large  square  mansion,  owning  the 
garden  that  runs  behind  it  and  to  the  right  of  it.  The 
house  is  old ;  a  Latin  inscription  shows  it  to  have  been 
given  to  the  great  Guild  of  Cross-bowmen  by  Queen 
Isabelle  in  the  early  years  of  the  i/th  century.  The 
garden  is  older ;  long  before  the  Guild  of  the  Cross- 
bowmen  of  the  Great  Oath,  in  deference  to  the  wish  of 
Queen  Isabelle,  permitted  the  street  to  be  made  through 
it,  the  garden  had  been  their  exercising  place.  There 
Isabelle  herself,  a  member  of  their  order,  had  shot  down 
the  bird.  But  the  garden  had  a  yet  more  ancient  past ; 
when  apple-trees,  pear-trees  and  alleys  of  Bruges  cherries, 
when  plots  of  marjoram  and  mint,  of  thyme  and  sweet- 
basil,  filled  the  orchard  and  herbary  of  the  Hospital  of 
the  Poor.  And  the  garden  itself,  before  trees  or  flowers 
were  planted,  had  resounded  with  the  yelp  of  the  Duke's 
hounds,  when,  in  the  thirteenth  century,  it  had  been  the 
Fosse-aux-chiens.  This  historic  garden,  this  mansion, 
built  by  a  queen  for  a  great  order,  belonged  in  1842  to 
Monsieur  and  Madame  Heger,  and  was  a  famous  Pen- 
sionnat  de  Demoiselles. 

78  EMIL  Y  BRONT&. 

There  the  Vicar  of  Haworth  brought  his  two  daughters 
one  February  day,  spent  one  night  in  Brussels  and  went 
straight  back  to  his  old  house  on  the  moors,  so  modern 
in  comparison  with  the  mansion  in  Rue  dTsabelle.  A 
•change,  indeed,  for  Emily  and  Charlotte.  Even  now, 
Brussels  (the  headquarters  of  Catholicism  far  more  than 
modern  Rome)  has  a  taste  for  pageantry  that  recalls 
mediaeval  days.  The  streets  decked  with  boughs  and 
strewn  with  flowers,  through  which  pass  slowly  the  pro- 
cessions of  the  Church,  white-clad  children,  boys  like 
angels  scattering  roses,  standard-bearers  with  emblazoned 
banners.  Surpliced  choristers  singing  Latin  praises, 
•acolytes  in  scarlet  swinging  censers,  reliquaries  and 
images,  before  which  the  people  fall  down  in  prayer  ;  all 
this  to-day  is  no  uncommon  sight  in  Brussels,  and  must 
have  been  yet  more  frequent  in  1842. 

The  flower-market  out  of  doors,  with  clove-pinks,  tall 
Mary-lilies  and  delicate  roses  d'amour,  filling  the  quaint 
mediaeval  square  before  the  beautiful  old  fapade  of  the 
H6tel  de  Ville.  Ste.-Gudule  with  its  spires  and  arches  ; 
the  Montagne  de  la  Cour  (almost  as  steep  as  Haworth 
.street),  its  windows  ablaze  at  night  with  jewels  ;  the  little, 
lovely  park,  its  great  elms  just  coming  into  leaf,  its 
statues  just  bursting  from  their  winter  sheaths  of  straw  ; 
the  galleries  of  ancient  pictures,  their  walls  a  sober  glory 
•of  colours,  blues,  deep  as  a  summer  night,  rich  reds, 
brown  golds,  most  vivid  greens. 

All  this  should  have  made  an  impression  on  the  two 
home-keeping  girls  from  Yorkshire ;  and  Charlotte, 
indeed,  perceived  something  of  its  beauty  and  strange- 
ness. But  Emily,  from  a  bitter  sense  of  exile,  from  a 
natural  narrowness  of  spirit,  rebelled  against  it  all  as 
an  insult  to  the  memory  of  her  home — she  longed,  hope- 
lessly, uselessly,  for  Haworth.  The  two  Brontes  were  very 


•different  to  the  Belgian  school-girls  in  Madame  Heger's 
Pensionnat.  They  were,  for  one  thing,  ridiculously  old 
to  be  at  school — twenty-four  and  twenty-six — and  they 
seemed  to  feel  their  position  ;  their  speech  was  strained 
and  odd  ;  all  the  "  sceptical,  wicked,  immoral  French 
novels,  over  forty  of  them,  the  best  substitute  for  French 
conversation  to  be  met  with,"  which  the  girls  had  toiled 
through  with  so  much  singleness  of  spirit,  had  not  cured  the 
broadness  of  their  accent  nor  the  artificial  idioms  of  their 
Yorkshire  French.  Monsieur  Heger,  indeed,  considered 
that  they  knew  no  French  at  all.  Their  manners,  even 
among  English  people,  were  stiff  and  prim  ;  the  hearty, 
vulgar,  genial  expansion  of  their  Belgian  schoolfellows 
must  have  made  them  seem  as  lifeless  as  marionettes. 
Their  dress — Haworth  had  permitted  itself  to  wonder  at 
the  uncouthness  of  those  amazing  leg-of-mutton  sleeves 
(Emily's  pet  whim  in  and  out  of  fashion),  at  the  ill-cut 
lankness  of  those  skirts,  clumsy  enough  on  round  little 
Charlotte,  but  a  very  caricature  of  mediaevalism  on 
Emily's  tall,  thin,  slender  figure.  They  knew  they 
were  not  in  their  element  and  kept  close  together, 
rarely  speaking.  Yet  Monsieur  Heger,  patiently  watch- 
ing, felt  the  presence  of  a  strange  power  under  those 
uncouth  exteriors. 

An  odd  little  man  of  much  penetration,  this  French 
schoolmaster.  "  Homme  de  ztle  et  de  conscience,  il 
possede  d  un  haut  degre  Eloquence  du  bon  sens  et 
du  cceur."  Fierce  and  despotic  in  the  exaction  of  obedi- 
ence, yet  tender  of  heart,  magnanimous  and  tyrannical, 
.absurdly  vain  and  absolutely  unselfish.  His  wife's  school 
was  a  kingdom  to  him  ;  he  brought  to  it  an  energy,  a 
zeal,  a  faculty  of  administration  worthy  to  rule  a  king- 
dom. It  was  with  the  delight  of  a  botanist  discovering 
-a  rare  plant  in  his  garden,  of  a  politician  detecting  a 


future  statesman  in  his  nursery,  that  he  perceived  the 
unusual  faculty  which  lifted  his  two  English  pupils 
above  their  schoolfellows.  He  watched  them  silently 
for  some  weeks.  When  he  had  made  quite  sure,  he 
came  forwards  and,  so  to  speak,  claimed  them  for  his 

Charlotte  at  once  accepted  the  yoke.  All  that  he  set 
tier  to  do  she  toiled  to  accomplish  ;  she  followed  out 
his  trains  of  thought ;  she  adopted  the  style  he  recom- 
mended ;  she  gave  him  in  return  for  all  his  pains  the 
most  unflagging  obedience,  the  affectionate  comprehen- 
sion of  a  large  intelligence.  She  writes  to  Ellen  of  her 
delight  in  learning  and  serving :  "  It  is  very  natural  to- 
me to  submit,  very  unnatural  to  command." 

Not  so  with  Emily.  The  qualities  which  her  sister 
understood  and  accepted,  irritated  her  unspeakably. 
The  masterfulness  in  little  things,  the  irritability,  the 
watchfulness  of  the  fiery  little  professor  of  rhetoric  were 
utterly  distasteful  to  her.  She  contradicted  his  theories 
to  his  face  ;  she  did  her  lessons  well,  but  as  she  chose  to 
do  them.  She  was  as  indomitable,  fierce,  unappeasable, 
as  Charlotte  was  ready  and  submissive.  And  yet  it  was 
Emily  who  had  the  larger  share  of  Monsieur  Heger's 
admiration.  Egotistic  and  exacting  he  thought  her,  wha 
never  yielded  to  his  petulant,  harmless  egoism,  who  never 
gave  way  to  his  benevolent  tyranny  ;  but  he  gave  her 
credit  for  logical  powers,  for  a  capacity  for  argument 
unusual  in  a  man,  and  rare,  indeed,  in  a  woman.  She,  not 
Charlotte,  was  the  genius  in  his  eyes,  although  he  com- 
plained that  her  stubborn  will  rendered  her  deaf  to  all 
reason,  when  her  own  determination,  or  her  own  sense  of 
right,  was  concerned.  He  fancied  she  might  be  a  great 
historian,  so  he  told  Mrs.  Gaskell.  "  Her  faculty  of 
imagination  was  such,  her  views  of  scenes  and  characters. 


would  have  been  so  vivid  and  so  powerfully  expressed, 
and  supported  by  such  a  show  of  argument  that  it  would 
have  dominated  over  the  reader,  whatever  might  have 
been  his  previous  opinions  or  his  cooler  perception  of  the 
truth.  She  should  have  been  a  man  :  a  great  navigator  !" 
cried  the  little,  dark,  enthusiastic  rhetorician.  "  Her 
powerful  reason  would  have  deduced  new  spheres  of 
discovery  from  the  knowledge  of  the  old ;  and  her 
strong  imperious  will  would  never  have  been  daunted 
by  opposition  or  difficulty  ;  never  have  given  way  but 
with  life!" 

Yet  they  were  never  friends  ;  though  Monsieur  He"ger 
could  speak  so  well  of  Emily  at  a  time,  be  it  remem- 
bered, when  it  was  Charlotte's  praises  that  were  sought, 
when  Emily's  genius  was  set  down  as  a  lunatic's  hob- 
goblin of  nightmare  potency.  He  and  she  were  alike 
too  imperious,  too  independent,  too  stubborn.  A  couple 
of  swords,  neither  of  which  could  serve  to  sheathe  the 

That  time  in  Brussels  was  wasted  upon  Emily.  The 
trivial  characters  which  Charlotte  made  immortal  merely 
annoyed  her.  The  new  impressions  which  gave  another 
scope  to  Charlotte's  vision  were  nothing  to  her.  All  that 
was  grand,  remarkable,  passionate,  under  the  surface  of 
that  conventional  Pensionnat  de  Demoiselles,  was  in- 
visible to  Emily.  Notwithstanding  her  genius  she  was 
very  hard  and  narrow. 

Poor  girl,  she  was  sick  for  home.  It  was  all  nothing 
to  her,  less  than  a  dream,  this  place  she  lived  in.  Char- 
lotte's engrossment  in  her  new  life,  her  eagerness  to 
please  her  master,  was  a  contemptible  weakness  to  this 
embittered  heart.  She  would  laugh  when  she  found  her 
elder  sister  trying  to  arrange  her  homely  gowns  in  the 
French  taste,  and  stalk  silently  through  the  large  school- 



rooms  with  a  fierce  satisfaction  in  her  own  ugly  sleeves, 
in  the  Haworth  cut  of  her  skirts.  She  seldom  spoke  a 
word  to  any  one  ;  only  sometimes  she  would  argue  with 
Monsieur  Heger,  perhaps  secretly  glad  to  have  the  chance 
of  shocking  Charlotte.  If  they  went  out  to  tea,  she 
would  sit  still  on  her  chair,  answering  "  Yes  "  and  "  No  ;" 
inert,  miserable,  with  a  heart  full  of  tears.  When  her 
work  was  done  she  would  walk  in  the  Cross -bowmen's 
ancient  garden,  under  the  trees,  leaning  on  her  shorter 
sister's  arm,  pale,  silent — a  tall,  stooping  figure.  Often 
she  said  nothing  at  all.  Charlotte,  also,  was  very  pro- 
fitably speechless  ;  under  her  eyes  '  Villette '  was  taking 
shape.  But  Emily  did  not  think  of  Brussels.  She  was 
dreaming  of  Haworth. 

One  poem  that  she  wrote  at  this  time  may  appro- 
priately be  quoted  here.  It  was,  Charlotte  tells  us, 
"composed  at  twilight,  in  the  schoolroom,  when  the 
leisure  of  the  evening  play-hour  brought  back,  in  full 
tide,  the  thoughts  of  home  : " 

"  A  little  while,  a  little  while, 

The  weary  task  is  put  away, 

And  I  can  sing  and  I  can  smile 

Alike,  while  I  have  holiday. 

'  Where  wilt  thou  go,  my  harassed  heart — 

What  thought,  what  scene  invites  thee  now  ? 
What  spot,  or  near  or  far  apart, 
Has  rest  for  thee,  my  weary  brow  ? 

"  There  is  a  spot  mid  barren  hills, 

Where  winter  howls  and  driving  rain  ; 
But,  if  the  dreary  tempest  chills, 
There  is  a  light  that  warms  again. 

"  The  house  is  old,  the  trees  are  bare, 

Moonless  above  bends  twilight's  dome  , 
But  what  on  earth  is  half  so  dear — 
So  longed  for — as  the  hearth  of  home  ? 


"  The  mute  bird  sitting  on  the  stone, 

The  dark  moss  dripping  from  the  wall, 
The  thorn-tree  gaunt,  the  walks  o'ergrown, 
I  love  them  ;  how  I  love  them  all  J 

*'  And,  as  I  mused,  the  naked  room, 
The  alien  fire-light  died  away  ; 
And  from  the  midst  of  cheerless  gloom 
I  passed  to  bright,  unclouded  day. 

41 A  little  and  a  lone  green  lane, 

That  opened  on  a  common  wide  ; 
A  distant,  dreary,  dim,  blue  chain 
Of  mountains  circling  every  side  : 

""  A  heaven  so  dear,  an  earth  so  calm, 

So  sweet,  so  soft,  so  hushed  an  air ; 
And — deepening  still  the  dream-like  charm — 
Wild  moor-sheep  feeding  everywhere. 

"  That  was  the  scene,  I  knew  it  well ; 
I  knew  the  turfy  pathway's  sweep, 
That,  winding  o'er  each  billowy  swell, 

Marked  out  the  tracks  of  wandering  sheep. 

"  Could  I  have  lingered  but  an  hour, 

It  well  had  paid  a  week  of  toil ; 
But  truth  has  banished  fancy's  power, 
Restraint  and  heavy  task  recoil. 

"  Even  as  I  stood  with  raptured  eye, 

Absorbed  in  bliss  so  deep  and  dear, 
My  hour  of  rest  had  fleeted  by, 
And  back  came  labour,  bondage,  care." 

Charlotte  meanwhile  writes  in  good,  even  in  high 
spirits  to  her  friend :  "  I  think  I  am  never  unhappy, 
my  present  life  is  so  delightful,  so  congenial,  compared 
to  that  of  a  governess.  My  time,  constantly  occupied, 
passes  too  rapidly.  Hitherto  both  Emily  and  I  have 
had  good  health,  and  therefore  we  have  been  able  to 
work  well.  There  is  one  individual  of  whom  I  have  not 

G  2 


yet  spoken — Monsieur  Heger,  the  husband  of  Madame. 
He  is  professor  of  rhetoric — a  man  of  power  as  to  mind, 
but  very  choleric  and  irritable  as  to  temperament — a 
little,  black,  ugly  being,  with  a  face  that  varies  in  ex- 
pression ;  sometimes  he  borrows  the  lineaments  of  an 
insane  torn  cat,  sometimes  those  of  a  delirious  hyena, 
occasionally — but  very  seldom — he  discards  these  perilous 
attractions  and  assumes  an  air  not  a  hundred  times  re- 
moved from  what  you  would  call  mild  and  gentleman- 
like. He  is  very  angry  with  me  just  at  present,  because 
I  have  written  a  translation  which  he  chose  to  stigmatise 
as  *  peu  correct.'  He  did  not  tell  me  so,  but  wrote  the 
words  on  the  margin  of  my  book,  and  asked,  in  brief, 
stern  phrase,  how  it  happened  that  my  compositions 
were  always  better  than  my  translations?  adding  that 
the  thing  seemed  to  him  inexplicable." 

The  reader  will  already  have  recognised  in  the  black, 
ugly,  choleric  little  professor  of  rhetoric,  the  one  abso- 
lutely natural  hero  of  a  woman's  novel,  the  beloved  and 
whimsical  figure  of  the  immortal  Monsieur  Paul  Emanuel. 

"He  and  Emily,"  adds  Charlotte,  "don't  draw  well 
together  at  all.  Emily  works  like  a  horse,  and  she  has 
had  great  difficulties  to  contend  with,  far  greater  than  I 
have  had." 

Emily  did  indeed  work  hard.  She  was  there  to  work, 
and  not  till  she  had  learned  a  certain  amount  would  her 
conscience  permit  her  to  return  to  Haworth.  It  was  for 
dear  liberty  that  she  worked.  She  began  German,  a 
favourite  study  in  after  years,  and  of  some  purpose,  since 
the  style  of  Hofmann  left  its  impression  on  the  author  of 
'  Wuthering  Heights/  She  worked  hard  at  music  ;  and 
in  half  a  year  the  stumbling  schoolgirl  became  a  brilliant 
and  proficient  musician.  Her  playing  is  said  to  have 
been  singularly  accurate,  vivid,  and  full  of  fire.  French. 


too,  both  in  grammar  and  in  literature,  was  a  constant 

Monsieur  Heger  recognised  the  fact  that  in  dealing 
with  the  Brontes  he  had  not  to  make  the  customary 
allowances  for  a  schoolgirl's  undeveloped  inexperience. 
These  were  women  of  mature  and  remarkable  intelli- 
gence. The  method  he  adopted  in  teaching  them  was 
rather  that  of  a  University  professor  than  such  as 
usually  is  used  in  a  pensionnat.  He  would  choose  some 
masterpiece  of  French  style,  some  passage  of  eloquence 
or  portraiture,  read  it  to  them  with  a  brief  lecture  on  its 
distinctive  qualities,  pointing  out  what  was  exaggerated, 
what  apt,  what  false,  what  subtle  in  the  author's  concep- 
tion or  his  mode  of  expressing  it.  They  were  then  dis- 
missed to  make  a  similar  composition,  without  the  aid 
of  grammar  or  dictionary,  availing  themselves  as  far  as 
possible  of  the  miances  of  style  and  the  peculiarities  of 
method  of  the  writer  chosen  as  the  model  of  the  hour. 
In  this  way  the  girls  became  intimately  acquainted  with 
the  literary  technique  of  the  best  French  masters.  To 
Charlotte  the  lessons  were  of  incalculable  value,  perfecting 
in  her  that  clear  and  accurate  style  which  makes  her  best 
work  never  wearisome,  never  old-fashioned.  But  the 
very  thought  of  imitating  any  one,  especially  of  imitating 
.any  French  writer,  was  repulsive  to  Emily,  "rustic  all 
through,  moorish,  wild  and  knotty  as  a  root  of  heath."  * 
When  Monsieur  Heger  had  explained  his  plan  to  them, 
•"  Emily  spoke  first ;  and  said  that  she  saw  no  good  to 
be  derived  from  it ;  and  that  by  adopting  it  they  would 
lose  all  originality  of  thought  and  expression.  She  would 
have  entered  into  an  argument  on  the  subject,  but  for 
this  Monsieur  Heger  had  no  time.  Charlotte  then 
spoke ;  she  also  doubted  the  success  of  the  plan  ;  but 
*  C.  Bronte. 


she  would  follow  out  Monsieur  Roger's  advice,  because 
she  was  bound  to  obey  him  while  she  was  his  pupil."  * 
Charlotte  soon  found  a  keen  enjoyment  in  this  species 
of  literary  composition,  yet  Emily's  devoir  was  the  best 
They  are,  alas,  no  longer  to  be  seen,  no  longer  in  the 
keeping  of  so  courteous  and  proud  a  guardian  as  Mrs. 
Gaskell  had  to  deal  with ;  but  she  and  Monsieur  Heger 
both  have  expressed  their  opinions  that  in  genius,  imagi- 
nation, power  and  force  of  language,  Emily  was  the 
superior  of  the  two  sisters. 

So  great  was  the  personality  of  this  energetic,  silent, 
brooding,  ill-dressed  young  Englishwoman,  that  all  who 
knew  her  recognised  in  her  the  genius  they  were  slow  to 
perceive  in  her  more  sociable  and  vehement  sister. 
Madame  Heger,  the  worldly,  cold-mannered,  surveill- 
ante  of  Villette,  avowed  the  singular  force  of  a  nature 
most  antipathetic  to  her  own.  Yet  Emily  had  no  com- 
panions ;  the  only  person  of  whom  we  hear,  in  even 
the  most  negative  terms  of  friendliness,  is  one  of  the 
teachers,  a  certain  Mademoiselle  Marie,  "talented  and 
original,  but  of  repulsive  and  arbitrary  manners,  which 
have  made  the  whole  school,  except  Emily  and  myself, 
her  bitter  enemies."  No  less  arbitrary  and  repulsive 
seemed  poor  Emily  herself,  a  sprig  of  purple  heath  at 
discord  with  those  bright,  smooth  geraniums  and  lobelias  ; 
Emily,  of  whom  every  surviving  friend  extols  the  never- 
failing,  quiet  unselfishness,  the  genial  spirit  ready  to 
help,  the  timid  but  faithful  affection.  She  was  so  com- 
pletely hors  de  son  assiette  that  even  her  virtues  were 

There  was  always  one  thing  she  could  do,  one  thing 
as  natural  as  breath  to  Emily — determined  labour.  In 
that  merciful  engrossment  she  could  forget  her  heart- 
*  Mrs.  Gaskell. 


sick  weariness  and  the  jarring  strangeness  of  things  ; 
every  lesson  conquered  was  another  step  taken  on  the 
long  road  home.  And  the  days  allowed  ample  space 
for  work,  although  it  was  supported  upon  a  somewhat 
slender  diet. 

Counting  boarders  and  externes,  Madame  Heger's 
school  numbered  over  a  hundred  pupils.  These  were 
divided  into  three  classes ;  the  second,  in  which  the 
Brontes  were,  containing  sixty  students.  In  the  last 
row,  side  by  side,  absorbed  and  quiet,  sat  Emily  and 
Charlotte.  Soon  after  rising,  the  pensionnaires  were 
given  their  light  Belgian  breakfast  of  coffee  and  rolls. 
Then  from  nine  to  twelve  they  studied.  Three  mistresses 
and  seven  professors  were  engaged  to  take  the  different 
classes.  At  twelve  a  lunch  of  bread  and  fruit ;  then  a 
turn  in  the  green  alley,  Charlotte  and  Emily  always 
walking  together.  From  one  till  two  fancy-work  ;  from 
two  till  four,  lessons  again.  Then  dinner  :  the  one  solid 
meal  of  the  day.  From  five  till  six  the  hour  was  free, 
Emily's  musing-hour.  From  six  till  seven  the  terrible 
lecture  pieuse,  hateful  to  the  Brontes'  Protestant  spirit. 
At  eight  a  supper  of  rolls  and  water  ;  then  prayers,  and 
to  bed. 

The  room  they  slept  in  was  a  long  school-dormitory. 
After  all  they  could  not  get  the  luxury,  so  much  desired, 
of  a  separate  room.  But  their  two  beds  were  alone 
together  at  the  further  end,  veiled  in  white  curtains ; 
discreet  and  retired  as  themselves.  Here,  after  the  day's 
hard  work,  they  slept.  In  sleep,  one  is  no  longer  an 

But  often  Emily  did  not  sleep.  The  old  well-known 
pain,  wakefulness,  longing,  was  again  beginning  to  relax 
her  very  heartstrings.  "  The  same  suffering  and  conflict 
ensued,  heightened  by  the  strong  recoil  of  her  upright 


heretic  and  English  spirit  from  the  gentle  Jesuitry  of 
the  foreign  and  Romish  system.  Once  more  she  seemed 
sinking,  but  this  time  she  rallied  through  the  mere  force 
of  resolution  :  with  inward  remorse  and-  shame  she 
looked  back  on  her  former  failure,  and  resolved  to 
conquer,  but  the  victory  cost  her  dear.  She  was  never 
happy  till  she  carried  her  hard-won  knowledge  back  to 
the  remote  English  village,  the  old  parsonage  house  and 
desolate  Yorkshire  hills."  * 

But  not  yet,  not  yet,  this  happiness  !  The  opportunity 
that  had  been  so  hardly  won  must  not  be  thrown  away 
before  the  utmost  had  been  made  of  it.  And  she  was 
not  utterly  alone.  Charlotte  was  there.  The  success 
that  she  had  in  her  work  must  have  helped  a  little  to 
make  her  foreign  home  tolerable  to  her.  Soon  she  knew 
enough  of  music  to  give  lessons  to  the  younger  pupils. 
Then  German,  costing  her  and  Charlotte  an  extra  ten 
francs  the  month,  as  also  much  severe  study  and  struggle. 
Charlotte  writes  in  the  summer:  "Emily  is  making 
rapid  progress  in  French,  German,  music  and  drawing. 
Monsieur  and  Madame  Heger  begin  to  recognise  the 
valuable  parts  of  her  character  under  her  singularities/' 

It  was  doubtful,  even,  whether  they  would  come  home 
in  September.  Madame  Heger  made  a  proposal  to  her 
two  English  pupils  for  them  to  stay  on,  without  paying, 
but  without  salary,  for  half  a  year.  She  would  dismiss 
her  English  teacher,  whose  place  Charlotte  would  take. 
Emily  was  to  teach  music  to  the  younger  pupils.  The 
proposal  was  kind  and  would  be  of  advantage  to  the 

Charlotte  declared  herself  inclined  to  accept  it.     "  I 
have  been  happy  in  Brussels,"  she  averred.   And  Emily, 
though  she,  indeed,  was  not  happy,  acknowledged  the 
*  C.  Bronte.    Memoir  of  her  sisters. 


benefit  to  be  derived  from  a  longer  term  of  study.  Six 
months,  after  all,  was  rather  short  to  gain  a  thorough 
•knowledge  of  French,  with  Italian  and  German,  when 
you  add  to  these  acquirements  music  and  drawing,  which 
Emily  worked  at  with  a  will.  Besides,  she  could  not  fail 
again,  could  not  go  back  to  Haworth  leaving  Charlotte 
behind ;  neither  could  she  spoil  Charlotte's  future  by 
persuading  her  to  reject  Madame  Heger's  terms.  So 
both  sisters  agreed  to  stay  in  Brussels.  They  were  not 
•utterly  friendless  there  ;  two  Miss  Taylors,  schoolfellows 
and  dear  friends  of  Charlotte's,  were  at  school  at  the 
Chateau  de  Kokleberg,  just  outside  the  barriers.  Readers 
of '  Shirley  '  know  them  as  Rose  and  Jessie  Yorke.  The 
Brontes  met  them  often,  nearly  every  week,  at  some 
cousins  of  the  Taylors,  who  lived  in  the  town.  But  this 
-diversion,  pleasant  to  Charlotte,  was  merely  an  added 
annoyance  to  Emily.  She  would  sit  stiff  and  silent, 
•unable  to  say  a  word,  longing  to  be  somewhere  at  her 
ease.  Mrs.  Jenkins,  too,  had  begun  with  asking  them  to 
;spend  their  Sundays  with  her  ;  but  Emily  never  said  a 
word,  and  Charlotte,  though  sometimes  she  got  excited 
.and  spoke  well  and  vehemently,  never  ventured  on  an 
opinion  till  she  had  gradually  wheeled  round  in  her 
•chair  with  her  back  to  the  person  she  addressed.  They 
were  so  shy,  so  rustic,  Mrs.  Jenkins  gave  over  inviting 
them,  feeling  that  they  did  not  like  to  refuse,  and  found 
it  no  pleasure  to  come.  Charlotte,  indeed,  still  had  the 
Taylors,  their  cousins,  and  the  family  of  a  doctor  living 
in  the  town,  whose  daughter  was  a  pupil  and  friend  of 
hers.  Charlotte,  too,  had  Madame  Heger  and  her 
admired  professor  of  rhetoric  ;  but  Emily  had  no  friend 
except  her  sister. 

Nevertheless   it  was  settled  they  should  stay.     The 
grandes  vacances   began  on  the  I5th   of  August,   and, 


as  the  journey  to  Yorkshire  cost  so  much,  and  as  they 
were  anxious  to  work,  the  Bronte  girls  spent  their  holi- 
days in  Rue  d'Isabelle.  Besides  themselves  only  six  or 
eight  boarders  remained.  All  their  friends  were  away 
holiday-making  ;  but  they  worked  hard,  preparing  their 
lessons  for  the  masters  who,  holidayless  as  they,  had 
stayed  behind  in  white,  dusty,  blazing,  airless  Brussels, 
to  give  lectures  to  the  scanty  class  at  Madame  Heger's 

So  the  dreary  six  weeks  passed  away.  In  October 
the  term  began  again,  the  pupils  came  back,  new  pupils 
were  admitted,  Monsieur  Heger  was  more  gesticulatory, 
vehement,  commanding  than  usual,  and  Madame,  in  her 
quiet  way,  was  no  less  occupied.  Life  and  youth  filled 
the  empty  rooms.  The  Bronte  girls,  sad  enough  indeed, 
for  their  friend  Martha  Taylor  had  died  suddenly  at  the 
Chateau  de  Kokleberg,  were,  notwithstanding,  able  to  feel 
themselves  in  a  more  natural  position  for  women  of  their 
age.  Charlotte,  henceforth,  by  Monsieur  Heger's  orders, 
"  Mademoiselle  Charlotte,"  was  the  new  English  teacher  ; 
Emily  the  assistant  music-mistress.  But,  in  the  middle 
of  October,  in  the  first  flush  of  their  employment,  came 
a  sudden  recall  to  Haworth.  Miss  Branwell  was  very 
ill.  Immediately  the  two  girls,  who  owed  so  much  to 
her,  who,  but  for  her  bounty,  could  never  have  been  so  far 
away  in  time  of  need,  decided  to  go  home.  They  broke 
their  determination  to  Monsieur  and  Madame  Heger,. 
who,  sufficiently  generous  to  place  the  girls'  duty  before 
their  own  convenience,  upheld  them  in  their  course.  They 
hastily  packed  up  their  things,  took  places  via  Antwerp 
to  London,  and  prepared  to  start.  At  the  last  moment, 
the  trunks  packed,  in  the  early  morning  the  postman 
came.  He  brought  another  letter  from  Haworth. 
Their  aunt  was  dead. 


So  much  the  greater  need  that  they  should  hasten 
home.  Their  father,  left  without  his  companion  of 
twenty  years,  to  keep  his  house,  to  read  to  him  at 
night,  to  discuss  with  him  on  equal  terms,  their  father 
would  be  lonely  and  distressed.  Henceforth  one  of  his 
daughters  must  stay  with  him.  Anne  was  in  an  excel- 
lent situation  ;  must  they  ask  her  to  give  it  up  ?  And 
what  now  of  the  school,  the  school  at  Burlington  ? 
There  was  much  to  take  counsel  over  and  consider ; 
they  must  hurry  home.  So,  knowing  the  worst,  their 
future  hanging  out  of  shape  and  loose  before  their  eyes, 
they  set  out  on  their  dreary  journey  knowing  not  whether 
or  when  they  might  return. 

92  EMIL  Y  BRONT£. 


-"  POOR,  brilliant,  gay,  moody,  moping,  wildly  excitable, 
miserable  Bronte !  No  history  records  your  many 
•struggles  after  the  good — your  wit,  brilliance,  attrac- 
tiveness, eagerness  for  excitement — all  the  qualities 
which  made  you  such  'good  company'  and  dragged 
you  down  to  an  untimely  grave." 

Thus  ejaculates  Mr.  Francis  H.  Grundy,  remembering 
the  boon-companion  of  his  early  years,  the  half-insane, 
pitiful  creature  that  opium  and  brandy  had  made  of 
clever  Branwell  at  twenty-two.  Returned  from  Bradford, 
his  nervous  system  racked  by  opium  fumes,  he  had 
loitered  about  at  Ha  worth  until  his  father,  stubborn  as 
he  was,  perceived  the  obvious  fact  that  every  idle  day 
led  his  only  son  more  hopelessly  down  to  the  pit  of  ruin. 
At  last  he  exerted  his  influence  to  find  some  work  for 
Branwell,  and  obtained  for  his  reckless,  fanciful,  morbid 
lad  the  post  of  station-master  at  a  small  roadside  place, 
Luddendenfoot  by  name,  on  the  Lancashire  and  York- 
shire Railway.  Thither  he  went  some  months  before 
Charlotte  and  Emily  left  for  Brussels.  It  was  there  Mr. 
Grundy  met  him  ;  a  novel  station-master. 

"  Had  a  position  been  chosen  for  this  strange  creature 
for  the  express  purpose  of  driving  him  several  steps  to 
the  bad,  this  must  have  been  it.  The  line  was  only  just 
opened.  The  station  was  a  rude  wooden  hut,  and  there 


was  no  village  near  at  hand.  Alone  in  the  wilds  of 
Yorkshire,  with  few  books,  little  to  do,  no  prospects, 
and  wretched  pay,  with  no  society  congenial  to  his 
better  taste,  but  plenty  of  wild,  rollicking,  hard-headed, 
half-educated  manufacturers,  who  would  welcome  him  to 
their  houses,  and  drink  with  him  as  often  as  he  chose  to- 
come,  what  was  this  morbid  man,  who  couldn't  bear  to 
be  alone,  to  do  ?  "  * 

What  Branwell  always  did,  in  fine,  was  that  which 
was  easiest  to  him  to  do.  He  drank  himself  violent,, 
when  he  did  not  drink  himself  maudlin.  He  left  the 
porter  at  the  station  to  keep  the  books,  and  would  ga 
off  for  days  "on  the  drink"  with  his  friends  and  fellow  - 
carousers.  About  this  time  Mr.  Grundy,  then  an  engineer 
at  Halifax,  fell  in  with  the  poor,  half-demented,  lonely 
creature,  and  for  a  while  things  went  a  little  better. 

Drink  and  riot  had  not  embellished  the  tawny-maned, 
laughing,  handsome  darling  of  Haworth.  Here  is  his 
portrait  as  at  this  time  he  appeared  to  his  friend  : 

"  He  was  insignificantly  small — one  of  his  life's  trials, 
He  had  a  mass  of  red  hair,  which  he  wore  brushed  high 
off  his  forehead — to  help  his  height,  I  fancy — a  great, 
bumpy,  intellectual  forehead,  nearly  half  the  size  of  the 
whole  facial  contour ;  small  ferrety  eyes,  deep-sunk  and 
still  further  hidden  by  the  never-removed  spectacles ; 
prominent  nose,  but  weak  lower  features.  He  had  a 
downcast  look,  which  never  varied,  save  for  a  rapid 
momentary  glance  at  long  intervals.'  Small  and  thin 
of  person,  he  was  the  reverse  of  attractive  at  first  sight." 

Yet  this  insignificant,  sunken-eyed  slip  of  humanity 

had  a  spell  for  those  who  heard  him  speak.     There  was 

no  subject,  moral,  intellectual,  or  philosophic  too  remote 

or  too  profound  for  him  to  measure  it  at  a  moment's 

*  '  Pictures  of  the  Past.'     F.  H.  Grundy. 


notice,  with  the  ever-ready,  fallacious  plumb-]  ine  of  his 
brilliant  vanity.  He  would  talk  for  hours  :  be  eloquent, 
convincing,  almost  noble  ;  and  afterwards  accompany 
his  audience  to  the  nearest  public-house. 

"  At  times  we  would  drive  over  in  a  gig  to  Haworth 
•(twelve  miles)  and  visit  his  people.  He  was  there  at  his 
best,  and  would  be  eloquent  and  amusing,  although 
sometimes  he  would  burst  into  tears  when  returning, 
and  swear  that  he  meant  to  amend.  I  believe,  however, 
that  he  was  half  mad  and  could  not  control  himself."  * 

So  must  his  friends  in  kindness  think.  Mad  ;  if  haunt- 
ing, morbid  dreads  and  fancies  conjured  up  by  poisonous 
drugs  and  never  to  be  laid  ;  if  a  will  laid  prostrate  under 
the  yoke  of  unclean  habits ;  if  a  constitution  prone  to 
nervous  derangement  and  blighted  by  early  excess ;  if 
such  things  forcing  him  by  imperceptible  daily  pressure 
to  choose  the  things  he  loathed,  to  be  the  thing  he 
feared,  to  act  a  part  abhorrent  to  his  soul ;  if  such 
estranging  and  falsification  of  a  man's  true  self  may 
count  as  lunacy,  the  luckless,  worthless  boy  was  mad. 

It  must  have  galled  him,  going  home,  to  be  welcomed 
so  kindly,  hoped  so  much  from,  by  those  who  had  for- 
given amply,  and  did  not  dream  how  heavy  a  mortgage 
had  since  been  laid  upon  their  pardon ;  to  have  talked 
to  the  prim,  pretty  old  lady  who  denied  herself  every 
day  to  save  an  inheritance  for  him ;  to  watch  pious, 
gentle  Anne  into  whose  dreams  the  sins  she  prayed 
against  had  never  entered  ;  worst  of  all,  the  sight  of  his 
respectable,  well-preserved  father,  honoured  by  all  the 
parish,  successful,  placed  by  his  own  stern,  continued, 
will  high  beyond  the  onslaughts  of  temptation,  yet 
with  a  temperament  singularly  akin  to  that  morbid, 
passionate  son's. 

*  '  Pictures  of  the  Past. 



So  he  would  weep  going  home  ;  weep  for  his  falling 
-off,  and  perhaps  more  sincerely  for  the  short  life  of  his 
contrition.  Then  the  long  evenings  alone  with  his 
thoughts  in  that  lonely  place  would  make  him  afraid 
of  repentance,  afraid  of  God,  himself,  night,  all.  He 
would  drink. 

He  had  fits  of  as  contrary  pride.  "  He  was  proud  of 
his  name,  his  strength  and  his  abilities."  Proud  of  his 
name  !  He  wrote  a  poem  on  it,  "  Bronte,"  an  eulogy  of 
Nelson,  which  won  the  patronising  approbation  of  Leigh 
Hunt,  Miss  Martineau  and  others,  to  whom,  at  his 
special  request,  it  was  submitted.  Had  he  ever  heard 
of  his  dozen  aunts  and  uncles,  the  Pruntys  of  Ahaderg  ? 
Or  if  not,  with  what  sensations  must  the  Vicar  of 
Haworth  have  listened  to  this  blazoning  forth  and 
triumphing  over  the  glories  of  his  ancient  name  ? 

Branwell  had  fits  of  passion,  too,  the  repetition  of  his 
father's  vagaries.  "  I  have  seen  him  drive  his  doubled 
fist  through  the  panels  of  a  door — it  seemed  to  soothe 
him."  The  rough  side  of  his  nature  got  full  play,  and 
perhaps  won  him  some  respect  denied  to  his  cleverness, 
in  the  society  amongst  which  he  was  chiefly  thrown. 
For  a  little  time  the  companionship  of  Mr.  Grundy 
.served  to  rescue  him  from  utter  abandonment  to  license. 
But,  in  the  midst  of  this  improvement,  the  crash  came. 
As  he  had  sown,  he  reaped. 

Those  long  absences,  drinking  at  the  houses  of  his 
friends,  had  been  turned  to  account  by  the  one  other 
inhabitant  of  the  station  at  Luddendenfoot.  The 
luggage  porter  was  left  to  keep  the  books,  and,  following 
his  master's  example,  he  sought  his  own  enjoyment 
before  his  employers'  gain.  He  must  have  made  a 
pretty  penny  out  of  those  escapades  of  Barnwell's,  for 
some  months  after  the  Vicar  of  Haworth  had  obtained 


his  son's  appointment,  when  the  books  received  their 
customary  examination,  serious  defalcations  were  dis- 
covered. An  inquiry  was  instituted,  which  brought  to 
light  Branwell's  peculiar  method  of  managing  the  station. 
The  lad  himself  was  not  suspected  of  actual  theft ;  but 
so  continued,  so  glaring  had  been  his  negligence,  so- 
hopeless  the  cause,  that  he  was  summarily  dismissed 
the  company's  service,  and  sent  home  in  dire  disgrace  to- 

He  came  home  not  only  in  disgrace,  but  ill.  Never 
strong,  his  constitution  was  deranged  and  broken  by 
his  excesses  ;  yet,  strangly  enough,  consumption,  which 
carried  off  so  prematurely  the  more  highly-gifted,  the 
more  strongly-principled  daughters  of  the  house,  con- 
sumption, which  might  have  been  originally  produced 
by  the  vicious  life  this  youth  had  led,  laid  no  claim  upon 
him.  His  mother's  character  and  her  disease  descended 
to  her  daughters  only.  Branwell  inherited  his  father's 
violent  temper,  strong  passions  and  nervous  weakness 
without  the  strength  of  will  and  moral  fibre  that  made 
his  father  remarkable.  Probably  this  brilliant,  weak, 
shallow,  selfish  lad  reproduced  accurately  enough  the 
characteristics  of  some  former  Prunty  ;  for  Patrick  Bran- 
well  was  as  distinctly  an  Irishman  as  if  his  childhood 
had  been  spent  in  his  grandfather's  cabin  at  Ahaderg. 

He  came  home  to  find  his  sisters  all  away.  Anne  in 
her  situation  as  governess,  Emily  and  Charlotte  in 
Rue  d'Isabelle.  No  one,  therefore,  to  be  a  check  upon 
his  habits,  save  the  neat  old  lady,  growing  weaker  day 
by  day,  who  spent  nearly  all  her  time  in  her  bedroom 
to  avoid  the  paven  floors  of  the  basement ;  and  the 
father,  who  did  not  care  for  company,  took  his  meals 
alone  for  fear  of  indigestion,  and  found  it  necessary  to 
spend  the  succeeding  time  in  perfect  quiet.  The  greater 


part  of  the  day  was,  therefore,  at  Branwell's  uncontrolled, 
unsupervised  disposal. 

To  do  him  justice,  he  does  seem  to  have  made  so 
much  effort  after  a  new  place  of  work  as  was  involved 
in  writing  letters  to  his  friend  Grundy,  and  probably 
to  others,  suing  for  employment.  But  his  offence  had 
been  too  glaring  to  be  condoned.  Mr.  Grundy  seems  to 
have  advised  the  hapless  young  man  to  take  shelter  in 
the  Church,  where  the  influence  of  his  father  and  his 
mother's  relatives  might  help  him  along ;  but,  as  Bran- 
well  said,  he  had  not  a  single  qualification,  "save,  per- 
haps hypocrisy."  Parson's  sons  rarely  have  a  great  idea 
of  the  Church.  The  energy,  self-denial,  and  endurance 
which  a  clergyman  ought  to  possess  were  certainly 
not  in  Branwell's  line.  Besides,  how  could  he  take  his 
degree  ?  Montgomery,  it  seems,  recommended  him  to 
make  trial  of  literature.  "All  very  well,  but  I  have 
little  conceit  of  myself  aud  great  desire  for  activity. 
You  say  that  you  write  with  feelings  similar  to  those 
with  which  you  last  left  me ;  keep  them  no  longer.  I 
trust  I  am  somewhat  changed,  or  I  should  not  be  worth 
a  thought ;  and  though  nothing  could  ever  give  me  your 
buoyant  spirits  and  an  outward  man  corresponding 
therewith,  I  may,  in  dress  and  appearance,  emulate 
something  like  ordinary  decency.  And  now,  wherever 
coming  years  may  lead — Greenland's  snows  or  sands  of 
Afric— I  trust,  etc.  9th  June,  1842."  * 

It  is  doubtful,  judging  from  Branwell's  letters  and  his 
verses,  whether  anything  much  better  than  his  father's 
'  Cottage  in  the  Wood  '  would  have  resulted  from  his 
following  the  advice  of  James  Montgomery.  Fluent 
ease,  often  on  the  verge  of  twaddle,  with  here  and  there 
a  bright,  felicitous  touch,  with  here  and  there  a  smack 
*  '  Pictures  of  the  Past.' 



of  the  conventional  hymn-book  and  pulpit  twang — such 
weak  and  characterless  effusions  are  all  that  is  left  or' 
the  passion-ridden  pseudo-genius  of  Haworth.  Real 
genius  is  perhaps  seldom  of  such  showy  temperament. 

Poor  Branwell !  it  needed  greater  strength  than  his  to 
retrieve  that  first  false  step  into  ruin.  He  cannot  help 
himself,  and  can  find  no  one  to  help  him ;  he  appeals 
again  to  Mr.  Grundy  (in  a  letter  which  must,  from 
internal  evidence,  have  been  written  about  this  time, 
although  a  different  and  impossible  year  is  printed  at  its 
heading) : — 

"  DEAR  SIR, 

"  I  cannot  avoid  the  temptation  to  cheer  my  spirits  by 
scribbling  a  few  lines  to  you  while  I  sit  here  alone,  all 
the  household  being  at  church — the  sole  occupant  of  an 
ancient  parsonage  among  lonely  hills,  which  probably 
will  never  hear  the  whistle  of  an  engine  till  I  am  in  my 

"After  experiencing,  since  my  return  home,  extreme 
pain  and  illness,  with  mental  depression  worse  than 
either,  I  have  at  length  acquired  health  and  strength 
and  soundness  of  mind,  far  superior,  I  trust,  to  anything 
shown  by  that  miserable  wreck  you  used  to  know  under 
my  name.  I  can  now  speak  cheerfully  and  enjoy  the 
company  of  another  without  the  stimulus  of  six  glasses 
of  whisky.  I  can  write,  think  and  act  with  some 
apparent  approach  to  resolution,  and  I  only  want  a 
motive  for  exertion  to  be  happier  than  I  have  been  for 
years.  But  I  feel  my  recovery  from  almost  insanity  to 
be  retarded  by  having  nothing  to  listen  to  except  the 
wind  moaning  among  old  chimneys  and  older  ash-trees 
— nothing  to  look  at  except  heathery  hills,  walked  over 
when  life  had  all  to  hope  for  and  nothing  to  regret  with 


me — no  one  to  speak  to  except  crabbed  old  Greeks  and 
Romans  who  have  been  dust  the  last  five  \sic\  thousand 
years.  And  yet  this  quiet  life,  from  its  contrast,  makes 
the  year  passed  at  Luddendenfoot  appear  like  a  night- 
mare, for  I  would  rather  give  my  hand  than  undergo 
again  the  grovelling  carelessness,  the  malignant,  yet  cold 
debauchery,  the  determination  to  find  out  how  far  mind 
could  carry  body  without  both  being  chucked  into  hell, 
which  too  often  marked  my  conduct  when  there,  lost  as 
I  was  to  all  I  really  liked,  and  seeking  relief  in  the 
indulgence  of  feelings  which  form  the  blackest  spot  in 
my  character. 

"  Yet  I  have  something  still  left  me  which  may  do  me 
service.  But  I  ought  not  to  remain  too  long  in  solitude, 
for  the  world  soon  forgets  those  who  have  bidden  it 
'*  good-bye.'  Quiet  is  an  excellent  cure,  but  no  medicine 
should  be  continued  after  a  patient's  recovery,  so  I  am 
about,  though  ashamed  of  the  business,  to  dun  you  for 
answers  to . 

"  Excuse  the  trouble  I  am  giving  to  one  on  whose 
kindness  I  have  no  claim,  and  for  whose  services  I  am 
offering  no  return  except  gratitude  and  thankfulness, 
which  are  already  due  to  you.  Give  my  sincere  regards 
to  Mr.  Stephenson.  A  word  or  two  to  show  you  have 
not  altogether  forgotten  me  will  greatly  please, 

"Yours,  etc." 

Alas,  no  helping  hand  rescued  the  sinking  wretch 
from  the  quicksands  of  idle  sensuality  which  slowly 
engulfed  him !  Yet,  at  this  time,  there  might  have 
been  hope,  had  he  been  kept  from  evil.  Deliver  himself 
he  could  not.  His  "  great  desire  for  activity  "  seems  to 
have  had  to  be  in  abeyance  for  some  months,  for  on  the 
2 5th  of  October  he  is  still  at  Haworth.  He  then  writes  to 

H  2 

ioo  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

Mr.  Grundy  again.  The  letter  brings  us  up  to  the  time 
when — in  the  cheerless  morning — Charlotte  and  Emily 
set  out  on  their  journey  homewards  ;  it  reveals  to  us 
how  much  real  undeserved  suffering  must  have  been 
going  on  side  by  side  with  Branwell's  purposeless 
miseries  in  the  grey  old  parsonage  at  Haworth.  The 
good  methodical  old  maiden  aunt — who  for  twenty  years 
had  given  the  best  of  her  heart  to  this  gay  affectionate 
nephew  of  hers — had  come  down  to  the  edge  of  the 
grave,  having  waited  long  enough  to  see  the  hopeless 
fallacy  of  all  her  dreams  for  him,  all  her  affection. 
Branwell,  who  was  really  tender-hearted,  must  have 
been  sobered  then. 

He  writes  to  Mr.  Grundy  in  a  sincere  and  manly 
strain : — 

"  MY  DEAR  SIR, 

"There  is  no  misunderstanding.  I  have  had  a  long 
attendance  at  the  death-bed  of  the  Rev.  Mr.  Weightman, 
one  of  my  dearest  friends,  and  now  I  am  attending  at 
the  death-bed  of  my  Aunt,  who  has  been  for  twenty 
years  as  my  mother.  I  expect  her  to  die  in  a  few 

"  As  my  sisters  are  far  from  home,  I  have  had  much 
on  my  mind,  and  these  things  must  serve  as  an  apology 
for  what  was  never  intended  as  neglect  of  your  friendship 
to  us. 

"  I  had  meant  not  only  to  have  written  to  you,  but 
to  the  Rev.  James  Martineau,  gratefully  and  sincerely 
acknowledging  the  receipt  of  his  most  kindly  and  truth- 
ful criticism — at  least  in  advice,  though  too  generous 
far  in  praise — but  one  sad  ceremony  must,  I  fear,  be 
gone  through  first.  Give  my  most  sincere  respects  to 
Mr.  Stephenson,  and  excuse  this  scrawl ;  my  eyes  are  too 


dim  with  sorrow  to  see  well.     Believe  me,  your  not  very 
happy,  but  obliged  friend  and  servant, 

"P.  B.BRONTE." 

But  not  till  three  days  later  the  end  came.  By  that 
time  Anne  was  home  to  tend  the  woman  who  had  taken 
her,  a  little  child,  into  her  love  and  always  kept  her  there. 
Anne  had  ever  lived  gladly  with  Miss  Bran  well ;  her 
more  dejected  spirit  did  not  resent  the  occasional  op- 
pressions, the  little  tyrannies,  which  revolted  Charlotte 
.and  silenced  Emily.  And,  at  the  last,  all  the  constant 
self-sacrifice  of  those  twenty  years,  spent  for  their  sake 
in  a  strange  and  hated  country,  would  shine  out,  and  yet 
more  endear  the  sufferer  to  those  who  had  to  lose  her. 

On  the  2Qth  of  October  Branwell  again  writes  to  his 
friend : — 

"  MY  DEAR  SIR, 

"  As  I  don't  want  to  lose  a  real  friend,  I  write  in  depre- 
cation of  the  tone  of  your  letter.  Death  only  has  made 
me  neglectful  of  your  kindness,  and  I  have  lately  had  so 
much  experience  with  him,  that  your  sister  would  not 
now  blame  'me  for  indulging  in  gloomy  visions  either  of 
this  world  or  of  another.  I  am  incoherent,  I  fear,  but  I 
have  been  waking  two  nights  witnessing  such  agonising 
suffering  as  I  would  not  wish  my  worst  enemy  to 
endure ;  and  I  have  now  lost  the  pride  and  director  of 
all  the  happy  days  connected  with  my  childhood.  I 
have  suffered  such  sorrow  since  I  last  saw  you  at 
Haworth,  that  I  do  not  now  care  if  I  were  fighting  in 

India,  or since,  when  the  mind  is  depressed,  danger 

is  the  most  effectual  cure." 

Miss  Branwell  was  dead.  All  was  over :  she  was 
buried  on  a  Tuesday  morning,  before  Charlotte  and 



Emily,  having  travelled  night  and  day,  got  home.  They 
found  Mr.  Bronte  and  Anne  sitting  together,  quietly 
mourning  the  customary  presence  to  be  known  no  more. 
Branwell  was  not  there.  It  was  the  first  time  he  would 
see  his  sisters  since  his  great  disgrace  ;  he  could  not  wait 
at  home  to  welcome  them. 

Miss  Branwell's  will  had  to  be  made  known.  The 
little  property  that  she  had  saved  out  of  her  frugal 
income  was  all  left  to  her  three  nieces.  Branwell  had 
been  her  darling,  the  only  son,  called  by  her  name ;  but 
his  disgrace  had  wounded  her  too  deeply.  He  was  not 
even  mentioned  in  her  will. 



SUDDENLY  recalled  from  what  had  seemed  the  line  of 
duty,  with  all  their  future  prospects  broken,  the  three 
sisters  found  themselves  again  at  Haworth  together. 
There  could  be  no  question  now  of  their  keeping  a 
school  at  Burlington ;  if  at  all,  it  must  be  at  Haworth, 
where  their  father  could  live  with  them.  Miss  Bran- 
well's  legacies  would  amply  provide  for  the  necessary- 
alterations  in  the  house  ;  the  question  before  them  was 
whether  they  should  immediately  begin  these  altera- 
tions, or  first  of  all  secure  a  higher  education  to  them- 

At  all  events  one  must  stay  at  home  to  keep  house 
for  Mr.  Bronte.  Emily  quickly  volunteered  to  be  the 
one.  Her  offer  was  welcome  to  all ;  she  was  the  most 
experienced  housekeeper.  Anne  had  a  comfortable 
situation,  which  she  might  resume  at  the  end  of  the 
Christmas  holidays,  and  Charlotte  was  anxious  to  get 
back  to  Brussels. 

It  would  certainly  be  of  advantage  to  their  school, 
that  cherished  dream  now  so  likely  to  come  true,  that 
the  girls  should  be  able  to  teach  German,  and  that  one 
of  them  at  least  should  speak  French  with  fluency  and 
well.  Monsieur  Heger  wrote  to  Mr.  Bronte  when  Char- 
lotte and  Emily  left,  pointing  out  how  much  more  stable 
and  enduring  their  advantages  would  become,  could  they 

104  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

continue  for  another  year  at  Brussels.  "  In  a  year,"  h<» 
says,  "  each  of  your  daughters  would  be  completely  pro 
vided  against  the  future  ;  each  of  them  was  acquiring  at 
the  same  time  instruction  and  the  science  to  instruct. 
Mademoiselle  Emily  has  been  learning  the  piano,  re- 
ceiving lessons  from  the  best  master  that  we  have  in 
Brussels,  and  already  she  had  little  pupils  of  her  own ; 
she  was  therefore  losing  at  the  same  time  a  remainder  of 
ignorance,  and  one,  more  embarrassing  still,  of  timidity. 
Mademoiselle  Charlotte  was  beginning  to  give  lessons 
in  French,  and  was  acquiring  that  assurance  and  aplomb 
so  necessary  to  a  teacher.  One  year  more,  at  the  most, 
and  the  work  had  been  completed,  and  completed  well." 
Emily,  as  we  know,  refused  the  lure.  Once  at  Haworth, 
she  was  not  to  be  induced,  by  offer  of  any  advantages, 
to  quit  her  native  heath.  On  the  other  hand,  Charlotte 
desired  nothing  better.  Hers  was  a  nature  very  capable 
of  affection,  of  gratitude,  of  sentiment.  It  would  have 
been  a  sore  wrench  to  her  to  break  so  suddenly  with 
her  busy,  quiet  life  in  the  old  mansion,  Rue  d'Isabelle. 
Almost  imperceptibly  she  had  become  fast  friends  with 
the  place.  Mary  Taylor  had  left,  it  is  true,  and  bright, 
engaging  Martha  slept  there,  too  sound  to  hear  her,  in 
the  Protestant  cemetery.  But  in  foreign,  heretic,  distant 
Brussels  there  were  calling  memories  for  the  downright, 
plain  little  Yorkshire  woman.  She  could  not  choose  but 
hear.  The  blackavised,  tender-hearted,  fiery  professor, 
for  whom  she  felt  the  reverent,  eager  friendship  that 
intellectual  girls  often  give  to  a  man  much  older  than 
they ;  the  doctor's  family  ;  even  Madame  Beck  ;  even 
the  Belgian  schoolgirls — she  should  like  to  see  them  all 
again.  She  did  not  perhaps  realise  how  different  a  place 
Brussels  would  seem  without  her  sister.  And  it  would 
certainly  be  an  advantage  for  the  school  that  she  should 

THE  RECALL.  105 

know  German.  For  these,  and  many  reasons,  Charlotte 
decided  to  renounce  a  salary  of  £50  a  year  offered  her 
in  England,  and  to  accept  that  of  £16  which  she  would 
earn  in  Brussels. 

Thus  it  was  determined  that  at  the  end  of  the  Christ- 
mas holidays  the  three  sisters  were  again  to  be  divided. 
But  first  they  were  nearly  three  months  together. 

Branwell  was  at  home.  Even  yet  at  Haworth  that 
was  a  pleasure  and  not  a  burden.  His  sisters  never 
saw  him  at  his  worst ;  his  vehement  repentance  brought 
conviction  to  their  hearts.  They  still  hoped  for  his 
future,  still  said  to  each  other  that  men  were  different 
from  women,  and  that  such  strong  passions  betokened  a 
nature  which,  if  once  directed  right,  would  be  passion- 
ately right.  They  did  not  feel  the  miserable  flabbiness 
of  his  moral  fibre  ;  did  not  know  that  the  weak  slip  down 
when  they  try  to  stand,  and  cannot  march  erect.  They 
were  both  too  tender  and  too  harsh  with  their  brother, 
because  they  could  not  recognise  what  a  mere,  poor 
creature  was  this  erring  genius  of  theirs. 

Thus,  when  the  first  shock  was  over,  the  reunited 
family  was  most  contented.  Lightly,  naturally,  as  an 
-autumn  leaf,  the  old  aunt  had  fallen  out  of  the  house- 
hold, her  long  duties  over  ;  and  they — though  they  loved 
and  mourned  her — they  were  freer  for  her  departure. 
There  was  no  restraint  now  on  their  actions,  their 
opinions ;  they  were  mistresses  in  their  own  home.  It 
was  a  happy  Christmas,  though  not  free  from  burden. 
The  sisters,  parted  for  so  long,  had  much  experience  to 
exchange,  many  plans  to  make.  They  had  to  revisit 
their  old  haunts  on  the  moors,  white  now  with  snow. 
There  were  walks  to  the  library  at  Keighley  for  such 
books  as  had  been  added  during  their  absence.  Ellen 
came  to  Haworth.  Then,  at  the  end  of  January  1843, 

106  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

Anne  went  back  to  her  duties,  and  Charlotte  set  off  alone 
for  Brussels. 

Emily  was  left  behind  with  Branwell ;  but  not  for 
long.  It  must  have  been  about  this  time  that  the  ill- 
fated  young  man  obtained  a  place  as  tutor  in  the  house 
where  Anne  was  governess.  It  appeared  a  most  for- 
tunate connection  ;  the  family  was  well  known  for  its 
respectable  position,  came  of  a  stock  eminent  in  good 
works,  and  the  sisters  might  well  believe  that,  under 
Anne's  gentle  influence  and  such  favouring  auspices, 
their  brother  would  be  led  into  the  way  of  the  just. 

Then  Emily  was  alone  in  the  grey  house,  save  for  her 
secluded  father  and  old  Tabby,  now  over  seventy.  She 
was  not  unhappy.  No  life  could  be  freer  than  her  own  ; 
it  was  she  that  disposed,  she  too  that  performed  most  of 
the  household  work.  She  always  got  up  first  in  the  morn- 
ing and  did  the  roughest  part  of  the  day's  labour  before 
frail  old  Tabby  came  down  ;  since  kindness  and  thought 
for  others  were  part  of  the  nature  of  this  unsocial,  rugged 
woman.  She  did  the  household  ironing  and  most  of  the 
cookery.  She  made  the  bread  ;  and  her  bread  was  famous 
in  Haworth  for  its  lightness  and  excellence.  As  she 
kneaded  the  dough,  she  would  glance  now  and  then  at 
an  open  book  propped  up  before  her.  It  was  her  German 
lesson.  But  not  always  did  she  study  out  of  books  ; 
those  who  worked  with  her  in  that  kitchen,  young  girls 
called  in  to  help  in  stress  of  business,  remember  how  she 
would  keep  a  scrap  of  paper,  a  pencil,  at  her  side,  and 
how,  when  the  moment  came  that  she  could  pause  in  her 
cooking  or  her  ironing,  she  would  jot  down  some  im- 
patient thought  and  then  resume  her  work.  With  these 
girls  she  was  always  friendly  and  hearty — "pleasant, 
sometimes  quite  jovial  like  a  boy/'  "  so  genial  and  kind, 
a  little  masculine,"  say  my  informants  ;  but  of  strangers. 

THE  RECALL.  107 

she  was  exceedingly  timid,  and  if  the  butcher's  boy  or 
the  baker's  man  came  to  the  kitchen  door  she  would  be 
off  like  a  bird  into  the  hall  or  the  parlour  till  she  heard 
their  hob-nails  clumping  down  the  path.  No  easy  getting 
sight  of  that  rare  bird.  Therefore,  it  may  be,  the  Haworth 
people  thought  more  of  her  powers  than  of  those  of  Anne 
or  Charlotte,  who  might  be  seen  at  school  any  Sunday. 
They  say  :  "A  deal  o1  folk  thout  her  th'  clever'st  o'  them 
a',  hasumiver  shoo  wur  so  timid,  shoo  cudn't  frame  to  let 
it  aat." 

For  amusements  she  had  her  pets  and  the  garden. 
She  always  fed  the  animals  herself :  the  old  cat  ;  Flossy,. 
Anne's  favourite  spaniel ;  Keeper,  the  fierce  bulldog,  her 
own  constant,  dear  companion,  whose  portrait,  drawn  by 
her  spirited  hand,  is  still  extant.  And  the  creatures  on 
the  moor  were  all,  in  a  sense,  her  pets  and  familiar  with 
her.  The  intense  devotion  of  this  silent  woman  to  all 
manner  of  dumb  creatures  has  something  pathetic,  in- 
explicable, almost  deranged.  "  She  never  showed  regard 
to  any  human  creature ;  all  her  love  was  reserved  for 
animals,"  said  some  shallow  jumper  at  conclusions  to 
Mrs.  Gaskell.  Regard  and  help  and  staunch  friendliness 
to  all  in  need  was  ever  characteristic  of  Emily  Bronte ; 
yet  between  her  nature  and  that  of  the  fierce,  loving, 
faithful  Keeper,  that  of  the  wild  moor-fowl,  of  robins 
that  die  in  confinement,  of  quick-running  hares,  of  cloud- 
sweeping,  tempest-boding  sea-mews,  there  was  a  natural 

The  silent-growing  flowers  were  also  her  friends.  The 
little  garden,  open  to  all  the  winds  that  course  over  Lees 
Moor  and  Stillingworth  Moor  to  the  blowy  summit  of 
Haworth  Street — that  little  garden  whose  only  bulwark 
against  the  storm  was  the  gravestones  outside  the  rail- 
ing, the  stunted  thorns  and  currant-bushes  within — was 


nevertheless  the  home  of  many  sweet  and  hardy  flowers, 
creeping  up  under  the  house  and  close  to  the  shelter  of 
the  bushes.  So  the  days  went  swiftly  enough  in  tending 
her  house,  her  garden,  her  dumb  creatures.  In  the  even- 
ings she  would  sit  on  the  hearthrug  in  the  lonely  parlour, 
one  arm  thrown  round  Keeper's  tawny  neck,  studying  a 
book.  For  it  was  necessary  to  study.  After  the  next 
Christmas  holidays  the  sisters  hoped  to  reduce  to  prac- 
tice their  long-cherished  vision  of  keeping  school  together. 
Letters  from  Brussels  showed  Emily  that  Charlotte  was 
troubled,  excited,  full  of  vague  disquiet.  She  would  be 
glad,  then,  to  be  home,  to  use  the  instrument  it  had  cost 
so  much  pains  to  perfect.  A  costly  instrument,  indeed, 
wrought  with  love,  anguish,  lonely  fears,  vanquished 
passion  ;  but  in  that  time  no  one  guessed  that,  not  the 
school-teacher's  German,  not  the  fluent  French  acquired 
abroad,  was  the  real  result  of  this  terrible  firing,  but  a 
novel  to  be  called  '  Villette.' 

Emily  then,  "  Mine  bonnie  love,"  as  Charlotte  used  to 
call  her,  cannot  have  been  quite  certain  of  this  dear 
sister's  happiness ;  and  as  time  went  on  Anne's  letters, 
too,  began  to  give  disquieting  tidings.  Not  that  her 
health  was  breaking  down ;  it  was,  as  usual,  Branwell 
whose  conduct  distressed  his  sisters.  He  had  altered  so 
strangely  ;  one  day  in  the  wildest  spirits,  the  next  moping 
in  despair,  giving  himself  mysterious  airs  of  importance, 
expressing  himself  more  than  satisfied  with  his  situation, 
smiling  oddly,  then,  perhaps,  the  next  moment  all  re- 
morse and  gloom.  Anne  could  not  understand  what 
ailed  him,  but  feared  some  evil. 

At  home,  moreover,  troubles  slowly  increased.  Old 
Tabby  grew  very  ill  and  could  do  no  work  ;  the  girl 
Hannah  left ;  Emily  had  all  the  business  of  investing 
the  little  property  belonging  to  the  three  sisters  since 

THE  RECALL.  109 

Miss  Branwell's  death ;  worse  still,  old  Mr.  Bronte's 
health  began  to  flag,  his  sight  to  fail.  Worst  of  all — in> 
that  darkness,  despair,  loneliness — the  old  man,  so  Emily 
feared,  acquired  the  habit  of  drinking,  though  not  to 
excess,  yet  more  than  his  abstemious  past  allowed. 
Doubtless  she  exaggerated  her  fears,  with  BranwelL 
always  present  in  her  thoughts.  But  Emily  grew  afraid,, 
alone  at-Haworth,  responsible,  knowing  herself  deficient 
in  that  controlling  influence  so  characteristic  of  her  elder 
sister.  Her  burden  of  doubt  was  more  that  she  could 
bear.  She  decided  to  write  to  Charlotte. 

On  the  2nd  of  January,  1844,  Charlotte  arrived  at 

On  the  23rd  of  the  month  she  wrote  to  her  friend  : — 

"  Everyone  asks  me  what  I  am  going  to  do  now  that 
I  am  returned  home,  and  everyone  seems  to  expect 
that  I  should  immediately  commence  a  school.  In  truth 
it  is  what  I  should  wish  to  do.  I  desire  it  above  all 
things,  I  have  sufficient  money  for  the  undertaking,  and 
I  hope  now  sufficient  qualifications  to  give  me  a  fair 
chance  of  success ;  yet  I  cannot  yet  permit  myself  to 
enter  upon  life— to  touch  the  object  which  seems  now 
within  my  reach,  and  which  I  have  been  so  long  strain- 
ing to  attain.  You  will  ask  me  why  ?  It  is  on  papa's 
account ;  he  is  now,  as  you  know,  getting  old  ;  and  it 
grieves  me  to  tell  you  that  he  is  losing  his  sight.  I  have 
felt  for  some  months  that  I  ought  not  to  be  away  from 
him,  and  I  feel  now  that  it  would  be  too  selfish  to  leave 
him  (at  least  as  long  as  Branwell  and  Anne  are  absent) 
in  order  to  pursue  selfish  interests  of  my  own.  With  the 
help  of  God,  I  will  try  to  deny  myself  in  this  matter,  and 
to  wait. 

"  I  suffered  much  before  I  left  Brussels.  I  think, 
however  long  I  live,  I  shall  not  forget  what  the  parting 

i  io  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

with  Monsieur  He"ger  cost  me.  It  grieved  me  so  much 
to  grieve  him  who  has  been  so  true,  kind,  disinterested  a 

friend Haworth  seems  such  a  lonely  quiet  spot, 

buried  away  from  the  world.  I  no  longer  regard  myself 
as  young,  indeed,  I  shall  soon  be  twenty-eight ;  and  it 
seems  as  if  I  ought  to  be  working,  and  braving  the  rough 

realities  of  the  world,  as  other  people  do ."  * 

Wait,  eager  Charlotte,  there  are  in  store  for  you 
enough  and  to  spare  of  rude  realities,  enough  of  working 
and  braving,  in  this  secluded  Haworth.  No  need  to  go 
forth  in  quest  of  dangers  and  trials.  The  air  is  growing 
thick  with  gloom  round  your  mountain  eyrie.  High  as 
it  is,  quiet,  lonely,  the  storms  of  heaven  and  the  storms 
of  earth  have  found  it  out,  to  break  there. 

*  Mrs.  GaskelL 

(  III  ) 



'GRADUALLY  Charlotte's  first  depression  wore  away. 
Long  discussions  with  Emily,  as  they  took  their  walks 
over  the  moors,  long  silent  brooding  of  ways  and  means, 
-as  they  sat  together  in  the  parlour  making  shirts  for 
Branwell,  long  thinking,  brought  new  counsel.  She  went, 
moreover,  to  stay  with  her  friend  Ellen,  and  the  change 
helped  to  restore  her  weakened  health.  She  writes  to 
her  friend : — 

"  March  25 


"  I  got  home  safely  and  was  not  too  much  tired  on 
arriving  at  Haworth.  I  feel  rather  better  to-day  than  I 
have  been,  and  in  time  I  hope  to  regain  more  strength. 
I  found  Emily  and  papa  well,  and  a  letter  from  Branwell 
intimating  that  he  and  Anne  are  pretty  well  too.  Emily 
is  much  obliged  to  you  for  the  seeds  you  sent.  She 
wishes  to  know  if  the  Sicilian  pea  and  the  crimson  corn- 
flower are  hardy  flowers,  or  if  they  are  delicate  and 
should  be  sown  in  warm  and  sheltered  situations.  Write 
to  me  to-morrow  and  let  me  know  how  you  all  are,  if 
your  mother  continues  to  get  better 

"  Good  morning,  dear  Nell,  I  shall  say  no  more  to 
you  at  present. 

"  C.  BRONTE." 


"  Monday  morning. 

"  Our  poor  little  cat  has  been  ill  two  days  and  is  just 
dead.  It  is  piteous  to  see  even  an  animal  lying  lifeless. 
Emily  is  sorry." 

Side  by  side  with  all  these  lighter  cares  went  on  the 
schemes  for  the  school.  At  last  the  two  sisters  deter- 
mined to  begin  as  soon  as  they  saw  a  fair  chance  of 
getting  pupils.  They  began  the  search  in  good  earnest ; 
but  fortunately,  postponed  the  necessary  alterations  in 
the  house  until  they  had  the  secure  promise  of,  at  any 
rate,  three  or  four.  Then  their  demands  lessened  as  day 
by  day  that  chance  became  more  difficult  and  fainter. 
In  early  summer  Charlotte  writes  :  "  As  soon  as  I  can  get 
a  chance  of  only  one  pupil,  I  will  have  cards  of  terms 
printed  and  will  commence  the  repairs  necessary  in  the 
house.  I  wish  all  to  be  done  before  the  winter.  I 
think  of  fixing  the  board  and  English  education  at  £25 
per  annum." 

Still  no  pupil  was  heard  of,  but  the  girls  went 
courageously  on,  writing  to  every  mother  of  daughters 
with  whom  they  could  claim  acquaintance.  But,  alas, 
it  was  the  case  with  one,  that  her  children  were  already 
at  school  in  Liverpool,  with  another  that  her  child  had 
just  been  promised  to  Miss  C.,  with  a  third  that  she 
thought  the  undertaking  praiseworthy,  but  Haworth 
was  so  very  remote  a  spot.  In  vain  did  the  girls  explain 
that  from  some  points  of  view  the  retired  situation  was 
an  advantage  ;  since,  had  they  set  up  school  in  some 
fashionable  place,  they  would  have  had  house-rent  to 
pay,  and  could  not  possibly  have  offered  an  excellent 
education  for  £25  a  year.  Parents  are  an  expectant 
people.  Still,  every  lady  promised  to  recommend  the 
school  to  mothers  less  squeamish,  or  less  engaged  ;  and, 
knowing  how  well  they  would  show  themselves  worthy 


of  the  chance,  once  they  had  obtained  it,  Charlotte  and 
Emily  took  heart  to  hope. 

The  holidays  arrived  and  still  nothing  was  settled. 
Anne  came  home  and  helped  in  the  laying  of  schemes 
and  writing  of  letters — but,  alas,  Branwell  also  came 
home,  irritable,  extravagant,  wildly  gay,  or  gloomily 
moping.  His  sisters  could  no  longer  blind  themselves 
to  the  fact  that  he  drank,  drank  habitually,  to  excess. 
And  Anne  had  fears — vague,  terrible,  foreboding — which 
she  could  not  altogether  make  plain. 

By  this  time  they  had  raised  the  charge  to  ^35,  con- 
sidering, perhaps,  that  their  first  offer  had  been  so  low  as 
to  discredit  their  attempt.  But  still  they  got  no  favour- 
able answers.  It  was  hard,  for  the  girls  had  not  been 
chary  of  time,  money,  or  trouble  to  fit  themselves  for 
their  occupation.  Looking  round  they  could  count  up 
many  schoolmistresses  far  less  thoroughly  equipped. 
Only  the  Brontes  had  no  interest. 

Meanwhile  Branwell  amused  himself  as  best  he  could. 
There  was  always  the  "  Black  Bull,"  with  its  admiring 
circle  of  drink-fellows,  and  the  girls  who  admired  Patrick's 
courteous  bow  and  Patrick's  winning  smile.  Good 
people  all,  who  little  dreamed  how  much  vice,  how  much 
misery  they  were  encouraging  by  their  approbation. 
Mr.  Grundy,  too,  came  over  now  and  then  to  see  his  old 
friend.  "  I  knew  them  all,"  he  says — "  The  father,  upright, 
handsome,  distantly  courteous,  white-haired,  tall ;  know- 
ing me  as  his  son's  friend,  he  would  treat  me  in  the 
Grandisonian  fashion,  coming  himself  down  to  the  little 
inn  to  invite  me,  a  boy,  up  to  his  house,  where  I  would 
be  coldly  uncomfortable  until  I  could  escape  with 
Patrick  Branwell  to  the  moors.  The  daughters — dis- 
tant and  distrait,  large  of  nose,  small  of  figure,  red  of 
hair  (!),  prominent  of  spectacles  ;  showing  great  intellec- 




tual  development,  but  with  eyes  constantly  cast  down, 
very  silent,  painfully  retiring.  This  was  about  the  time 
of  their  first  literary  adventures,  say  1843  or  1844."* 

But  of  literary  adventure  there  was  at  present  little 
thought.  The  school  still  occupied  their  thoughts  and 
dreams.  At  last,  no  pupil  coming  forward,  some  cards 
of  terms  were  printed  and  given  for  distribution  to  the 
friends  of  Charlotte  and  Anne  ;  Emily  had  no  friends. 

There  are  none  left  of  them,  those  pitiful  cards  of 
terms  never  granted ;  records  of  such  unfruitful  hopes. 
They  have  fitly  vanished,  like  the  ghosts  of  children 
never  born  ;  and  quicker  still  to  vanish  was  the  dream 
that  called  them  forth.  The  weeks  went  on,  and  every 
week  of  seven  letterless  mornings,  every  week  of  seven 
anxious  nights,  made  the  sisters  more  fully  aware  that 
notice  and  employment  would  not  come  to  them  in  the 
way  they  had  dreamed  ;  made  them  think  it  well  that 
Branwell's  home  should  not  be  the  dwelling  of  innocent 

Anne  went  back  to  her  work  leaving  the  future  as 
uncertain  as  before. 

In  October  Charlotte,  always  the  spokeswoman, 
writes  again  to  her  friend  and  diligent  helper  in  this 
matter : — 


"  I,  Emily,  and  Anne  are  truly  obliged  to  you  for  the 
efforts  you  have  made  in  our  behalf ;  and  if  you  have 
not  been  successful  you  are  only  like  ourselves.  Every- 
one wishes  us  well ;  but  there  are  no  pupils  to  be  had. 
We  have  no  present  intention,  however,  of  breaking  our 
hearts  on  the  subject ;  still  less  of  feeling  mortified  at 
our  defeat.  The  effort  must  be  beneficial,  whatever  the 
*  *  Pictures  of  the  Past.' 


result  may  be,  because  it  teaches  us  experience  and  an 
additional  knowledge  of  this  world. 

"  I  send  you  two  additional  circulars,  and  will  send 
you  two  more,  if  you  desire  it,  when  I  write  again." 

Those  four  circulars  also  came  to  nothing  ;  it  was  now 
more  than  six  months  since  the  three  sisters  had  begun 
their  earnest  search  for  pupils :  more  than  three  years 
since  they  had  taken  for  the  ruling  aim  of  their  endea- 
vours the  formation  of  this  little  school.  Not  one  pupil 
could  they  secure ;  not  one  promise.  At  last  they  knew 
that  they  were  beaten. 

In  November  Charlotte  writes  again  to  Ellen  : — 

"  We  have  made  no  alterations  yet  in  our  house.  It 
would  be  folly  to  do  so  while  there  is  so  little  likelihood 
of  our  ever  getting  pupils.  I  fear  you  are  giving  yourself 
too  much  trouble  on  our  account. 

"Depend  on  it,  if  you  were  to  persuade  a  mama  to 
bring  her  child  to  Haworth,  the  aspect  of  the  place 
would  frighten  her,  and  she  would  probably  take  the 
dear  girl  back  with  her  instanter.  We  are  glad  that  we 
have  made  the  attempt,  and  we  will  not  be  cast  down 
because  it  has  not  succeeded."  * 

There  was  no  more  to  be  said,  only  to  put  carefully 
by,  as  one  puts  by  the  thoughts  of  an  interrupted  mar- 
riage, all  the  dreams  that  had  filled  so  many  months 
only  to  lay  aside  in  a  drawer,  as  one  lays  aside  the  long 
sewn  at  garments  of  a  still-born  child,  the  plans  drawn 
out  for  the  builder,  the  printed  cards,  the  lists  of  books 
to  get ;  only  to  face  again  a  future  of  separate  toil 
among  strangers,  to  renounce  the  vision  of  a  home 


*  Mrs.  Gaskell. 

I  2 

1 1 6  EMIL  Y  BRONT&. 


As  the  spring  grew  upon  the  moors,  dappling  them  with 
fresh  verdant  shoots,  clearing  the  sky  overhead,  loosen- 
ing the  winds  to  rush  across  them ;  as  the  beautiful 
season  grew  ripe  in  Haworth,  every  one  of  its  days 
made  clearer  to  the  two  anxious  women  waiting  there  in 
what  shape  their  blurred  foreboding  would  come  true  at 
last.  They  seldom  spoke  of  Branwell  now. 

It  was  a  hard  and  anxious  time,  ever  expectant  of  an 
evil  just  at  hand.  Minor  troubles,  too,  gathered  round 
this  shapeless  boded  grief:  Mr.  Bronte  was  growing 
blind  ;  Charlotte,  ever  nervous,  feared  the  same  fate,  and 
could  do  but  little  sewing  with  her  weak,  cherished  eye- 
sight. Anne's  letters  told  of  health  worn  out  by  constant, 
agonising  suspicion.  It  was  Emily,  that  strong  bearer 
of  burdens,  on  whom  the  largest  share  of  work  was 

Charlotte  grew  really  weak  as  the  summer  came.  Her 
sensitive,  vehement  nature  felt  anxiety  as  a  physical 
pain.  She  was  constantly  with  her  father ;  her  spirit 
sank  with  his,  as  month  by  month  his  sight  grew  sensibly 
weaker.  The  old  man,  to  whom  his  own  importance 
was  so  dear,  suffered  keenly,  indeed,  from  the  fear  of 
actual  blindness,  and  more  from  the  horror  of  depend- 
ence, than  from  the  dread  of  pain  or  privation.  "He 
fears  he  will  be  nothing  in  the  parish,"  says  sorrowful 


Charlotte.  And  as  her  father,  never  impatient,  never 
peevish,  became  more  deeply  cast  down  and  anxious, 
she,  too,  became  nervous  and  fearful ;  she,  too,  de- 

At  last,  when  June  came  and  brought  no  brightness 
to  that  grey  old  house,  with  the  invisible  shadow  ever 
hovering  above  it,  Charlotte  was  persuaded  to  seek  rest 
and  change  in  the  home  of  her  friend  near  Leeds. 

Anne  was  home  now ;  she  had  come  back  ill,  miser- 
able. She  had  suspicions  that  made  her  feel  herself 
degraded,  pure  soul,  concerning  her  brother's  relation 
with  her  employer's  wife.  Many  letters  had  passed 
between  them,  through  her  hands  too.  Too  often  had 
she  heard  her  unthinking  little  pupils  threaten  their 
mother  into  more  than  customary  indulgence,  saying  : 
"  Unless  you  do  as  we  wish,  we  shall  tell  papa  about 
Mr.  Bronte."  The  poor  girl  felt  herself  an  involuntary 
accomplice  to  that  treachery,  that  deceit. 

To  lie  down  at  night  under  the  roof,  to  break  by  day 
the  bread  of  the  good,  sick,  bedridden  man,  whose 
honour,  she  could  not  but  fear,  was  in  jeopardy  from  her 
own  brother,  such  dire  strain  was  too  great  for  that  frail, 
dejected  nature.  And  yet  to  say  openly  to  herself  that 
Branwell  had  committed  this  disgrace — it  was  impossible. 
Rather  must  her  suspicions  be  the  morbid  promptings 
of  a  diseased  mind.  She  was  wicked  to  have  felt  them. 
Poor,  gentle  Anne,  sweet,  "prim,  little  body,"  such 
scenes,  such  unhallowed  vicinities  of  lust,  were  not  for 
you.  At  last  sickness  came  and  set  her  free.  She  went 

Home,  with  its  constant  labour,  pure  air  of  good 
works ;  home,  with  its  sickness  and  love,  its  dread  for 
others  and  noble  sacrifice  of  self ;  how  welcome  was  it 
to  her  wounded  spirit !  And  yet  this  infinitely  lighter 


torment  was  wearing  Charlotte  out.  They  persuaded 
her  to  go  away,  and,  when  she  had  yielded,  strove  to 
keep  her  away. 

Emily  writes  to  Ellen  in  July  : — 

"  DEAR  MISS  NUSSEY— If  you  have  set  your  heart 
on  Charlotte  staying  another  week,  she  has  our  united 
consent.  I,  for  one,  will  take  everything  easy  on  Sun- 
day. I  am  glad  she  is  enjoying  herself ;  let  her  make 
the  most  of  the  next  seven  days  to  return  stout  and 
hearty.  Love  to  her  and  you  from  Anne  and  myself, 
and  tell  her  all  are  well  at  home.  —Yours, 


Charlotte  stayed  the  extra  week,  benefiting  largely 
thereby.  She  started  for  home,  and  enjoyed  her  journey, 
for  she  travelled  with  a  French  gentleman,  and  talked 
again  with  delight  the  sweet  language  which  had  left 
such  lingering  echoes  in  her  memory,  which  forbade  her 
to  feel  quite  contented  any  more  in  her  secluded  York- 
shire home.  Slight  as  it  was,  the  little  excitement  did 
her  good  ;  feeling  brave  and  ready  to  face  and  fight  with 
a  legion  of  shadows,  she  reached  the  gate  of  her  own 
home,  went  in.  Branwell  was  there. 

He  had  been  sent  home  a  day  or  two  before,  appa- 
rently for  a  holiday.  He  must  have  known  that  some 
discovery  had  been  made  at  last ;  he  must  have  felt  he 
never  would  return.  Anne,  too,  must  have  had  some 
misgivings  ;  yet  the  worst  was  not  known  yet.  Emilyr 
at  least,  could  not  guess  it.  Not  for  long  this  truce  with 
open  disgrace.  The  very  day  of  Charlotte's  return  a 
letter  had  come  for  Branwell  from  his  employer.  All 
had  been  found  out.  This  letter  commanded  Branwell 
never  to  see  again  the  mother  of  the  children  under  his 
care,  never  set  foot  in  her  home,  never  write  or  speak  to 


her.  Branwell,  who  loved  her  passionately,  had  in  that 
moment  no  thought  for  the  shame,  the  black  disgrace, 
he  had  brought  on  his  father's  house.  He  stormed, 
raved,  swore  he  could  not  live  without  her ;  cried  out 
against  her  next  for  staying  with  her  husband.  Then 
prayed  the  sick  man  might  die  soon ;  they  would  yet  be 
happy.  Ah,  he  would  never  see  her  again  ! 

A  strange  scene  in  the  quiet  parlour  of  a  country 
vicarage,  this  anguish  of  guilty  love,  these  revulsions 
from  shameful  ecstasy  to  shameful  despair.  Branwell 
raved  on,  delirious,  agonised ;  and  the  blind  father 
listened,  sick  at  heart,  maybe  self-reproachful ;  and  the 
gentle  sister  listened,  shuddering,  as  if  she  saw  hell 
lying  open  at  her  feet.  Emily  listened,  too,  indignant 
at  the  treachery,  horrified  at  the  shame  ;  yet  with  an 
immense  pity  in  her  fierce  and  loving  breast. 

To  this  scene  Charlotte  entered. 

Charlotte,  with  her  vehement  sense  of  right ;  Char- 
lotte, with  her  sturdy  indignation  ;  when  she,  at  last 
understood  the  whole  guilty  corrupted  passion  that  had 
wrecked  two  homes,  she  turned  away  with  something  in 
her  heart  suddenly  stiffened,  dead.  It  was  her  passionate 
love  for  this  shameful,  erring  brother,  once  as  dear  to 
her  as  her  own  soul.  Yet  she  was  very  patient.  She 
writes  to  a  friend  quietly  and  without  too  much 
disdain : — 

"  We  have  had  sad  work  with  Branwell.  He  thought 
of  nothing  but  stunning  or  drowning  his  agony  of  mind  " 
(in  what  fashion,  the  reader  knows  ere  now)  "  no  one  in 
this  house  could  have  rest,  and  at  last  we  have  been 
obliged  to  send  him  from  home  for  a  week,  with  some 
one  to  look  after  him.  He  has  written  to  me  this  morn- 
ing, expressing  some  sense  of  contrition  ....  but  as 
long  as  he  remains  at  home,  I  scarce  dare  hope  for  peace 

120  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

in  the  house.     We  must  all,  I  fear,  prepare  for  a  season 
of  distress  and  disquietude."  * 

A  weary  and  a  hopeless  time.  Branwell  came  back, 
better  in  body,  but  in  nowise  holier  in  mind.  His  one 
hope  was  that  his  enemy  might  die,  die  soon,  and  that 
things  might  be  as  they  had  been  before.  No  thought 
of  repentance.  What  money  he  had,  he  spent  in  gin  or 
opium,  anything  to  deaden  recollection.  A  woman  still 
lives  at  Haworth,  who  used  to  help  in  the  housework  at 
the  "  Black  Bull."  She  still  remembers  how,  in  the  early 
morning,  pale,  red-eyed,  he  would  come  into  the  passage 
of  the  inn,  with  his  beautiful  bow  and  sweep  of  the  lifted 
hat,  with  his  courteous  smile  and  ready  "  Good  morning, 
Anne  !"  Then  he  would  turn  to  the  bar,  and  feeling  in 
his  pockets  for  what  small  moneys  he  might  have — six- 
pence, eightpence,  tenpence,  as  the  case  might  be — he 
would  order  so  much  gin  and  sit  there  drinking  till  it 
was  all  gone,  then  still  sit  there  silent ;  or  sometimes 
he  would  passionately  speak  of  the  woman  he  loved,  of 
her  beauty,  sweetness,  of  how  he  longed  to  see  her  again ; 
he  loved  to  speak  of  her  even  to  a  dog ;  he  would  talk 
of  her  by  the  hour  to  his  dog.  Yet — lest  we  pity  this 
real  despair — let  us  glance  at  one  of  this  man's  letters. 
How  could  such  vulgar  weakness,  such  corrupt  and  loath- 
some sentimentality,  such  maudlin  Micawber-penitence, 
yet  feel  so  much  !  No  easy  task  to  judge  of  a  misery  too 
perverse  for  pity,  too  sincere  for  absolute  contempt. 
It  is  again  to  Mr.  Grundy  that  he  writes  : — 
"Since  I  last  shook  hands  with  you  in  Halifax,  two 
summers  ago,  my  life,  till  lately,  has  been  one  of  apparent 
happiness  and  indulgence.  You  will  ask — 'Why  does 
he  complain  then?'  I  can  only  reply  by  showing  the 
undercurrent  of  distress  which  bore  my  bark  to  a  whirl- 
*  Mrs.  Gaskell. 


pool,  despite  the  surface-waves  of  life  that  seemed  float- 
ing me  to  peace.  In  a  letter  begun  in  the  spring  of  1843  " 
(sic;  1845  ?)  "and  never  finished  owing  to  incessant 
attacks  of  illness,  I  tried  to  tell  you  that  I  was  tutor  to 
the  son  of  a  wealthy  gentleman  whose  wife  is  sister  to 

the  wife  of ,  an  M.P.,  and  the  cousin  of  Lord . 

This  lady  (though  her  husband  detested  me)  showed  me 
a  degree  of  kindness  which,  when  I  was  deeply  grieved 
one  day  at  her  husband's  conduct,  ripened  into  declara- 
tions of  more  than  ordinary  feeling.  My  admiration  of 
her  mental  and  personal  attractions,  my  knowledge  of  her 
unselfish  sincerity,  her  sweet  temper,  and  unwearied  care 
for  others,  with  but  unrequited  return  where  most  should 
have  been  given  ....  although  she  is  seventeen  years 
my  senior,  all  combined  to  an  attachment  on  my  part, 
and  led  to  reciprocations  which  I  had  little  looked  for. 
Three  months  since  I  received  a  furious  letter  from  my 
employer,  threatening  to  shoot  me  if  I  returned  from 
my  vacation  which  I  was  passing  at  home ;  and  letters 
from  her  lady's-maid  and  physician  informed  me  of 
the  outbreak,  only  checked  by  her  firm  courage  and 
resolution  that  whatever  harm  came  to  her  none  should 

come  to  me I  have  lain   for  nine   long  weeks, 

utterly  shattered  in  body  and  broken  down  in  mind. 
The  probability  of  her  becoming  free  to  give  me  herself 
and  estate  never  rose  to  drive  away  the  prospect  of 
her  decline  under  her  present  grief.  I  dreaded,  too, 
the  wreck  of  my  mind  and  body,  which — God  knows 
— during  a  short  life  have  been  most  severely  tried. 
Eleven  continuous  nights  of  sleepless  horror  reduced 
me  to  almost  blindness,  and  being  taken  into  Wales 
to  recover,  the  sweet  scenery,  the  sea,  the  sound  of 
music  caused  me  fits  of  unspeakable  distress.  You 
will  say :  '  What  a  fool ! '  But  if  you  knew  the  many 

1 22  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

causes  that  I  have  for  sorrow,  which  I  cannot  even  hint 
at  here,  you  would  perhaps  pity  as  well  as  blame.  At 
the  kind  request  of  Mr.  Macaulay  and  Mr.  Baines,  I 
have  striven  to  arouse  my  mind  by  writing  something 
worthy  of  being  read,  but  I  really  cannot  do  so.  Of 
course  you  will  despise  the  writer  of  all  this.  I  can  only 
answer  that  the  writer  does  the  same  and  would  not 
wish  to  live,  if  he  did  not  hope  that  work  and  change 
may  yet  restore  him. 

"Apologising  sincerely  for  what  seems  like  whining 
egotism,  and  hardly  daring  to  hint  about  days  when, 
in  your  company,  I  could  sometimes  sink  the  thoughts 
which  '  remind  me  of  departed  days/  I  fear  '  departed 
never  to  return/  I  remain,  &c."  * 

Unhappy  Branwell !  some  consolation  he  derives  in. 
his  utmost  sorrow  from  the  fact  that  the  lady  of  his  love 
can  employ  her  own  lady's-maid  and  physician  to  write 
letters  to  her  exiled  lover.  It  is  clear  that  his  pride  is 
gratified  by  this  irregular  association  with  a  lord.  He 
can  afford  to  wait,  stupefied  with  drink  and  drugs,  till 
that  happy  time  shall  come  when  he  can  step  forward 
and  claim  "  herself  and  estate,"  henceforward  Branwell 
Bronte,  Esq.,  J.P.,  and  a  person  of  position  in  the  county. 
Such  paradisal  future  dawns  above  this  present  pur- 
gatory of  pains  and  confusion. 

That  phrase  concerning  "  herself  and  estate  "  is  pecu- 
liarly apocalyptic.  It  sheds  a  quite  new  light  upon  a 
fact  which,  in  Mrs.  Gaskell's  time,  was  regarded  as  a 
proof  that  some  remains  of  conscience  still  stirred  within 
this  miserable  fellow.  Some  months  after  his  dismissal, 
towards  the  end  of  this  unhappy  year  of  1845,  he  met 
this  lady  at  Harrogate  by  appointment.  It  is  said  that 
she  proposed  a  flight  together,  ready  to  forfeit  all  her 
*  '  Pictures  of  the  Past.' 


grandeur.  It  was  Branwell  who  advised  patience,  and  a 
little  longer  waiting.  Maybe,  though  she  herself  was 
dear,  "although  seventeen  years  my  senior,"  "herself 
and  estate  "  was  estimably  dearer. 

And  yet  he  was  in  earnest,  yet  it  was  a  question  of  life 
and  death,  of  heaven  or  hell,  with  him.  If  he  could 
not  have  her,  he  would  have  nothing.  He  would  ruin 
himself  and  all  he  could.  Most  like,  in  this  rage  of  vain 
despair,  some  passionate  baby  that  shrieks,  and  hits,  and 
tears,  convulsed  because  it  may  not  have  the  moon. 

Small  wonder  that  Charlotte's  coldness,  aggravated  by 
continual  outrage  on  Branwell's  part,  gradually  became 
contempt  and  silence.  In  proportion  as  she  had  exulted 
in  this  brother,  hoped  all  for  him,  did  she  now  shrink 
from  him,  bitterly  chill  at  heart. 

"  I  begin  to  fear,"  she  says,  the  once  ambitious 
sister,  "that  he  has  rendered  himself  incapable  of  filling 
any  respectable  station  in  life."  She  cannot  ask  Ellen 
to  come  to  see  her,  because  he  is  in  the  house.  "  And 
while  he  is  here,  you  shall  not  come.  I  am  more  con- 
firmed in  that  resolution  the  more  I  see  of  him.  I  wish 
I  could  say  one  word  to  you  in  his  favour,  but  I  cannot. 
I  will  hold  my  tongue."  * 

For  some  while  she  hoped  that  the  crisis  would  pass,  and 
that  then — no  matter  how  humbly,  the  more  obscurely 
the  better — he  would  at  least  earn  honest  bread  away 
from  home.  Such  was  not  his  intention.  He  professed 
to  be  too  ill  to  leave  Haworth ;  and  ill,  no  doubt,  he 
was  from  continual  eating  of  opium,  and  daily  drinking 
of  drams.  He  stuck  to  his  comfortable  quarters,  to  the 
"Black  Bull"  just  across  the  churchyard,  heedless  of 
what  discomfort  he  gave  to  others.  "Branwell  offers 
no  prospect  of  hope,"  says  Charlotte,  again.  "  How 
*  Mrs.  Gaskell. 

124  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

can  we  be  more  comfortable  so  long  as  Branwell  stays 
.at  home  and  degenerates  instead  of  improving  ?  It  has 
been  intimated  that  he  would  be  received  again  where 
he  was  formerly  stationed  if  he  would  behave  more 
steadily,  but  he  refuses  to  make  the  effort.  He  will  not 
work,  and  at  home  he  is  a  drain  on  every  resource,  an 
impediment  to  all  happiness.  But  there's  no  use  in 
complaining " 

Small  use  indeed  ;  yet  once  more  she  forced  herself 
to  make  the  hopeless  effort,  after  some  more  than 
customary  outbreak  of  the  man  who  was  drinking  him- 
self into  madness  and  ruin.  She  writes  in  the  March 
•of  1 846  to  her  friend  and  comforter,  Ellen  : — 

"  I  went  into  the  room  where  Branwell  was,  to  speak 
to  him,  about  an  hour  after  I  got  home  ;  it  was  very 
forced  work  to  address  him.  I  might  have  spared  myself 
the  trouble,  as  he  took  no  notice,  and  made  no  reply  ; 
he  was  stupefied.  My  fears  were  not  vain.  I  hear  that 
he  got  a  sovereign  while  I  have  been  away,  under 
pretence  of  paying  a  pressing  debt ;  he  went  imme- 
diately and  changed  it  at  a  public-house,  and  has  em- 
ployed it  as  was  to  be  expected concluded  her 

account  by  saying  that  he  was  a  '  hopeless  being.'  It 
is  too  true.  In  his  present  state  it  is  scarcely  possible  to 
stay  in  the  room  where  he  is."* 

It  must  be  about  that  time  that  she  for  ever  gave  up 
expostulation  or  complaint  in  this  matter.  "  I  will  hold 
my  tongue,"  she  had  said,  and  she  kept  her  word.  For 
more  than  two  years  she  held  an  utter  silence  to  him  ; 
living  under  the  same  roof,  witnessing  day  by  day  his 
ever-deepening  degradation,  no  syllable  crossed  her  lips 
to  him.  Since  she  could  not  (for  the  sake  of  those  she 
3oved  and  might  comfort)  refuse  the  loathsome  daily 
*  Mrs.  Gaskell. 


touch  and  presence  of  sin,  she  endured  it,  but  would 
have  no  fellowship  therewith.  She  had  no  right  over  it, 
it  none  over  her.  She  looked  on  speechless  ;  that  man 
was  dead  to  her. 

Anne,  in  whom  the  fibre  of  indignation  was  less  strong, 
followed  less  sternly  in  her  sister's  wake. 

"She  had,"  says  Charlotte  in  her  'Memoir/  "in  the 
course  of  her  life  been  called  upon  to  contemplate,  near 
at  hand  and  for  a  long  time,  the  terrible  effects  of  talents 
misused  and  faculties  abused ;  hers  was  naturally  a 
sensitive,  reserved  and  dejected  nature  ;  what  she  saw 
went  very  deeply  into  her  mind  ;  it  did  her  harm." 

The  spectacle  of  this  harm,  coming  undeserved  to  so 
dear,  frail  and  innocent  a  creature,  absorbed  all  Char- 
lotte's pity.  There  was  none  left  for  Branwell. 

But  there  was  one  woman's  heart  strong  enough  in  its 
compassion  to  bear  the  daily  disgusts,  weaknesses,  sins 
of  Branwell's  life,  and  yet  persist  in  aid  and  affection. 
Night  after  night,  when  Mr.  Bronte  was  in  bed,  when 
Anne  and  Charlotte  had  gone  upstairs  to  their  room, 
Emily  still  sat  up,  waiting.  She  often  had  very  long  to 
wait  in  the  silent  house  before  the  staggering  tread,  the 
muttered  oath,  the  fumbling  hand  at  the  door,  bade  her 
rouse  herself  from  her  sad  thoughts  and  rise  to  let  in 
the  prodigal,  and  lead  him  in  safety  to  his  rest.  But 
she  never  wearied  in  her  kindness.  In  that  silent  home, 
it  was  the  silent  Emily  who  had  ever  a  cheering  word 
for  Branwell ;  it  was  Emily  who  still  remembered  that 
he  was  her  brother,  without  that  remembrance  freezing 
her  heart  to  numbness.  She  still  hoped  to  win  him 
back  by  love  ;  and  the  very  force  and  sincerity  of  his 
guilty  passion  (an  additional  horror  and  sin  in  her 
sisters'  eyes)  was  a  claim  on  Emily,  ever  sympathetic 
to  violent  feeling.  Thus  it  was  she  who,  more  than  the 


others,  became  familiarised  with  the  agony,  and  doubts, 
and  shame  of  that  tormented  soul ;  and  if,  in  her  little 
knowledge  of  the  world,  she  imagined  such  wrested 
passions  to  be  natural,  it  is  not  upon  her,  of  a  certainty, 
that  the  blame  of  her  pity  shall  be  laid. 

As  the  time  went  on  and  Branwell  grew  worse  and 
wilder,  it  was  well  for  the  lonely  watcher  that  she  was 
strong.  At  last  he  grew  ill,  and  would  be  content  to  go 
to  bed  early  and  lie  there  half-stupefied  with  opium  and 
drink.  One  such  night,  their  father  and  Branwell  being 
in  bed,  the  sisters  came  upstairs  to  sleep.  Emily  had 
gone  on  first  into  the  little  passage  room  where  she  still 
slept,  when  Charlotte,  passing  Branwell's  partly-opened 
door,  saw  a  strange  bright  flare  inside. 

"  Oh,  Emily  ! "  she  cried,  "  the  house  is  on  fire  ! " 
Emily  came  out,  her  fingers  at  her  lips.  She  had 
remembered  her  father's  great  horror  of  fire  ;  it  was  the 
one  dread  of  a  brave  man ;  he  would  have  no  muslin 
curtains,  no  light  dresses  in  his  house.  She  came  out 
silently  and  saw  the  flame  ;  then,  very  white  and  de- 
termined, dashed  from  her  room  downstairs  into  the 
passage,  where  every  night  full  pails  of  water  stood. 
One  in  each  hand  she  came  upstairs.  Anne,  Charlotte, 
the  young  servant,  shrinking  against  the  wall,  huddled 
together  in  amazed  horror — Emily  went  straight  on  and 
entered  the  blazing  room.  In  a  short  while  the  bright 
light  ceased  to  flare.  Fortunately  the  flame  had  not 
reached  the  woodwork  :  drunken  Branwell,  turning  in 
his  bed,  must  have  upset  the  light  on  to  his  sheets,  for 
they  and  the  bed  were  all  on  fire,  and  he  unconscious  in 
the  midst  when  Emily  went  in,  even  as  Jane  Eyre  found 
Mr.  Rochester.  But  it  was  with  no  reasonable,  thankful 
human  creature  with  whom  Emily  had  to  deal.  After  a 
few  long  moments,  those  still  standing  in  the  passage 


•saw  her  stagger  out,  white,  with  singed  clothes,  half- 
carrying  in  her  arms,  half-dragging,  her  besotted  brother. 
She  placed  him  in  her  bed,  and  took  away  the  light  ; 
then  assuring  the  hysterical  girls  that  there  could  be  no 
further  danger,  she  bade  them  go  and  rest — but  where 
she  slept  herself  that  night  no  one  remembers  now. 

It  must  be  very  soon  after  this  that  Branwell  began 
to  sleep  in  his  father's  room.  The  old  man,  courageous 
enough,  and  conceiving  that  his  presence  might  be  some 
slight  restraint  on  the  drunken  furies  of  his  unhappy 
son,  persisted  in  this  arrangement,  though  often  enough 
the  girls  begged  him  to  relinquish  it,  knowing  well 
enough  what  risk  of  life  he  ran.  Not  infrequently  Bran- 
well  would  declare  that  either  he  or  his  father  should  be 
dead  before  the  morning ;  and  well  might  it  happen 
that  in  his  insensate  delirium  he  should  murder  the 
blind  old  man. 

"  The  sisters  often  listened  for  the  report  of  a  pistol 
in  the  dead  of  the  night,  till  watchful  eye  and  hearkening 
ear  grew  heavy  and  dull  with  the  perpetual  strain  upon 
their  nerves.  In  the  mornings  young  Bronte  would 
saunter  out,  saying  with  a  drunkard's  incontinence  of 
speech,  'The  poor  old  man  and  I  have  had  a  terrible 
night  of  it.  He  does  his  best — the  poor  old  man  ! — but 
it's  all  over  with  me  ' "  (whimpering)  "  '  it's  her  fault,  her 
fault.'  "* 

And  in  such  fatal  progress  two  years  went  on,  bring- 
ing the  suffering  in  that  house  ever  lower,  ever  deeper, 
sinking  it  day  by  day  from  bad  to  worse. 

*  Mrs.  Gaskell. 

1 28  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 


WHILE  Emily  Bronte's  hands  were  ful  of  trivial  labour, 
while  her  heart  was  buried  with  its  charge  of  shame  and 
sorrow,  think  not  that  her  mind  was  more  at  rest.  She 
had  always  used  her  leisure  to  study  or  create  ;  and  the 
dreariness  of  existence  made  this  inner  life  of  hers 
doubly  precious  now.  There  is  a  tiny  copy  of  the 
*  Poems '  of  Ellis,  Currer,  and  Acton  Bell,  which  was 
Emily's  own,  marked  with  her  name  and  with  the  date 
of  every  poem  carefully  written  under  its  title,  in  her 
own  cramped  and  tidy  writing.  It  has  been  of  great  use 
to  me  in  classifying  the  order  of  these  poems,  chiefly 
hymns  to  imagination,  Emily's  "  Comforter,"  her  "  Fairy- 
love  ;"  beseeching  her  to  light  such  a  light  in  the  soul 
that  the  dull  clouds  of  earthly  skies  may  seem  of  scant 

The  light  that  should  be  lit  was  indeed  of  super- 
natural brightness  ;  a  flame  from  under  the  earth ;  a 
flame  of  lightning  from  the  skies  ;  a  beacon  of  awful 
warning.  Although  so  much  is  scarcely  evident  in 
these  early  poems,  gleaming  with  fantastic  glow-worm 
fires,  fairy  prettinesses,  or  burning  as  solemnly  and  pale 
as  tapers  lit  in  daylight  round  a  bier,  yet,  in  whatever 
shape,  "the  light  that  never  was  on  sea  or  land,"  the 
strange  transfiguring  shine  of  imagination,  is  present 


No  one  in  the  house  ever  saw  what  things  Emily  wrcte 
in  the  moments  of  pause  from  her  pastry-making,  in  those 
brief  sittings  under  the  currants,  in  those  long  and 
lonely  watches  for  her  drunken  brother.  She  did  not 
write  to  be  read,  but  only  to  relieve  a  burdened  heart. 
"One  day,"  writes  Charlotte  in  1850,  recollecting  the 
near,  vanished  past,  "one  day  in  the  autumn  of  1845,  I 
accidentally  lighted  on  a  manuscript  volume  of  verse  in 
my  sister  Emily's  handwriting.  Of  course  I  was  not 
surprised,  knowing  that  she  could  and  did  write  verse.  I 
looked  it  over,  and  something  more  than  surprise  seized 
me, — a  deep  conviction  that  these  were  not  common 
effusions,  not  at  all  like  the  poetry  women  generally 
write.  I  thought  them  condensed  and  terse,  vigorous 
and  genuine.  \  To  my  ear,  they  had  also  a  peculiar 
music,  wild,  melancholy  and  elevating." 

Very  true  ;  these  poems  with  their  surplus  of  imagina- 
tion, their  instinctive  music  and  irregular  rightness  of 
form,  their  sweeping  impressiveness,  effects  of  landscape, 
their  scant  allusions  to  dogma  or  perfidious  man,  are, 
indeed,  not  at  all  like  the  poetry  women  generally  write. 
The  hand  that  painted  this  single  line, 

"  The  dim  moon  struggling  in  the  sky," 

should  have  shaken  hands  with  Coleridge,  The  voice 
might  have  sung  in  concert  with  Blake  that  sang  this 
single  bit  of  a  song : 

"  Hope  was  but  a  timid  friend  ; 

She  sat  without  the  grated  den, 
Watching  how  my  fate  would  tend, 
Even  as  selfish-hearted  men. 

"  She  was  cruel  in  her  fear  ; 

Through  the  bars,  one  dreary  day, 
I  looked  out  to  see  her  there, 
And  she  turned  her  face  away  !  " 

1 30  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

Had  the  poem  ended  here  it  would  have  been  perfect, 
but  it  and  many  more  of  these  lyrics  have  the  uncer- 
tainty of  close  that  usually  marks  early  work.  Often 
incoherent,  too,  the  pictures  of  a  dream  rapidly  succeed- 
ing each  other  without  logical  connection ;  yet  scarcely 
marred  by  the  incoherence,  since  the  effect  they  seek  to 
produce  is  not  an  emotion,  not  a  conviction,  but  an 
impression  of  beauty,  or  horror,  or  ecstasy.  The  uncer- 
tain outlines  are  bathed  in  a  vague  golden  air  of  ima- 
gination, and  are  shown  to  us  with  the  magic  touch 
of  a  Coleridge,  a  Leopardi — the  touch  which  gives  a  mood, 
a  scene,  with  scarce  an  obvious  detail  of  either  mood  or 
scene.  We  may  not  understand  the  purport  of  the  song, 
we  understand  the  feeling  that  prompted  the  song,  as, 
having  done  with  reading  '  Kubla  Khan,'  there  remains 
in  our  mind,  not  the  pictured  vision  of  palace  or  dancer, 
but  a  personal  participation  in  Coleridge's  heightened 
fancy,  a  setting-on  of  reverie,  an  impression. 

Read  this  poem,  written  in  October,  1845 — 


"  Enough  of  thought,  philosopher, 
Too  long  hast  thou  been  dreaming 

Unlightened,  in  this  chamber  drear, 
While  summer's  sun  is  beaming  ! 

Space-sweeping  soul,  what  sad  refrain 
Concludes  thy  musings  once  again  ? 

"  Oh,  for  the  time  when  I  shall  sleep 

Without  identity, 
And  never  care  how  rain  may  steep, 

Or  snow  may  cover  me  ! 
No  promised  heaven,  these  wild  desires 

Could  all,  or  half  fulfil; 
/Jo  threatened  hell,  with  quenchless  fires, 
Subdue  this  quenchless  will ! 


'  So  said  I,  and  still  say  the  same; 

Still,  to  my  death,  will  say — 
Three  gods,  within  this  little  frame, 

Are  warring  night  and  day  ; 
Heaven  could  not  hold  them  all,  and  yet 

They  all  are  held  in  me, 
And  must  be  mine  till  I  forget 

My  present  entity  ! 
Oh,  for  the  time,  when  in  my  breast 

Their  struggles  will  be  o'er  ! 
Oh,  for  the  day,  when  I  shall  rest, 

And  never  suffer  more  ! 

1 1  saw  a  spirit,  standing,  man, 

Where  thou  dost  stand — an  hour  ago, 
And  round  his  feet  three  rivers  ran, 

Of  equal  depth,  and  equal  flow — 
A  golden  stream,  and  one  like  blood, 

And  one  like  sapphire  seemed  to  be  ; 
But,  where  they  joined  their  triple  flood 

It  tumbled  in  an  inky  sea. 
The  spirit  sent  his  dazzling  gaze 

Down  through  that  ocean's  gloomy  night 
Then,  kindling  all,  with  sudden  blaze, 

The  glad  deep  sparkled  wide  and  bright- 
White  as  the  sun,  far,  far  more  fair, 

Than  its  divided  sources  were  ! 

1  And  even  for  that  spirit,  seer, 

I've  watched  and  sought  my  life-time  long ; 
Sought  him  in  heaven,  hell,  earth  and  air — 

An  endless  search,  and  always  wrong  ! 
Had  I  but  seen  his  glorious  eye 

Once  light  the  clouds  that  'wilder  me, 
I  ne'er  had  raised  this  coward  cry 

To  cease  to  think,  and  cease  to  be  ; 
I  ne'er  had  called  oblivion  blest, 

Nor,  stretching  eager  hands  to  death, 
Implored  to  change  for  senseless  rest 

This  sentient  soul,  this  living  breath — 

K   ? 

132  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

"  Oh,  let  me  die — that  power  and  will 

Their  cruel  strife  may  close  ; 
And  conquered  good,  and  conquering  ill 
Be  lost  in  one  repose  ! " 

Some  semblance  of  coherence  may,  no  doubt,  be  given 
to  this  poem  by  making  the  three  first  and  the  last 
stanzas  to  be  spoken  by  the  questioner,  and  the  fourth 
by  the  philosopher.  Even  so,  the  subject  has  little 
charm.  What  we  care  for  is  the  surprising  energy  with 
which  the  successive  images  are  projected,  the  earnest 
ring  of  the  verse,  the  imagination  which  invests  all  its 
changes.  The  man  and  the  philosopher  are  but  the 
clumsy  machinery  of  the  magic-lantern,  the  more  kept 
out  of  view  the  better. 

"  Conquered  good  and  conquering  ill !  "  A  thought 
that  must  often  have  risen  in  Emily's  mind  during  this 
year  and  those  succeeding.  A  gloomy  thought,  suffi- 
ciently strange  in  a  country  parson's  daughter;  one 
destined  to  have  a  great  result  in  her  work. 

Of  these  visions  which  make  the  larger  half  of  Emily's 
contribution  to  the  tiny  book,  none  has  a  more  eerie 
grace  than  this  day-dream  of  the  5th  of  March,  1844, 
sampled  here  by  a  few  verses  snatched  out  of  their 
setting  rudely  enough  : — 

"  On  a  sunny  brae,  alone  I  lay 

One  summer  afternoon  ; 
It  was  the  marriage-time  of  May 
With  her  young  lover,  June. 

*  *  *  * 

"  The  trees  did  wave  their  plumy  crests, 

The  glad  birds  carolled  clear ; 
And  I,  of  all  the  wedding  guests, 
Was  only  sullen  there. 


"  Now,  whether  it  were  really  so, 

I  never  could  be  sure, 
But  as  in  fit  of  peevish  woe, 
I  stretched  me  on  the  moor, 

"  A  thousand  thousand  gleaming  fires 

Seemed  kindling  in  the  air  ; 
A  thousand  thousand  silvery  lyres 
Resounded  far  and  near  : 

41  Methought,  the  very  breath  I  breathed 

Was  full  of  sparks  divine, 
And  all  my  heather-couch  was  wreathed 
By  that  celestial  shine ! 

"  And,  while  the  wide  earth  echoing  rung 

To  their  strange  minstrelsy, 

The  little  glittering  spirits  sung, 

Or  seemed  to  sing,  to  me." 

What  they  sang  is  indeed  of  little  moment  enough — 
a  strain  of  the  vague  pantheistic  sentiment  common 
always  to  poets,  but  her  manner  of  representing  the 
little  airy  symphony  is  charming.  It  recalls  the  fairy- 
like  brilliance  of  the  moors  at  sunset,  when  the  sun,  slip- 
ping behind  a  western  hill,  streams  in  level  rays  on  to  an 
opposite  crest,  gilding  with  pale  gold  the  fawn-coloured 
faded  grass  ;  tangled  in  the  film  of  lilac  seeding  grasses, 
spread,  like  the  bloom  on  a  grape,  over  all  the  heath ; 
sparkling  on  the  crisp  edges  of  the  heather  blooms, 
pure  white,  wild-rose  colour,  shell-tinted,  purple ;  em- 
phasising every  grey-green  spur  of  the  undergrowth  of 
ground-lichen ;  striking  every  scarlet-splashed,  white- 
budded  spray  of  ling  :  an  iridescent,  shimmering,  dancing 
effect  of  white  and  pink  and  purple  flowers  ;  of  lilac 
bloom,  of  grey-green  and  whitish-grey  buds  and  branches, 
all  crisply  moving  and  dancing  together  in  the  breeze 

134  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

on  the  hilltop.      I  have  quoted  that  windy  night  in  a 
line — 

"  The  dim  moon  struggling  in  the  sky." 

Here  is  another  verse  to  show  how  well  she  watched 
from  her  bedroom's  wide  window  the  grey  far-stretching 
skies  above  the  black  far-stretching  moors — 

"  And  oh,  how  slow  that  keen-eyed  star 

Has  tracked  the  chilly  grey  ; 
What,  watching  yet !  how  very  far 
The  morning  lies  away." 

Such  direct,  vital  touches  recall  well-known  passages 
in  '  Wuthering  Heights  : '  Catharine's  pictures  of  the 
moors ;  that  exquisite  allusion  to  Gimmerton  Chapel 
bells,  not  to  be  heard  on  the  moors  in  summer  when  the 
trees  are  in  leaf,  but  always  heard  at  Wuthering  Heights 
on  quiet  days  following  a  great  thaw  or  a  season  of 
steady  rain. 

But  not,  alas  !  in  such  fantasy,  in  such  loving  intimacy 
with  nature,  might  much  of  Emily's  sorrowful  days  be 
passed.  Nor  was  it  in  her  nature  that  all  her  dreams 
should  be  cheerful.  The  finest  songs,  the  most  pecu- 
liarly her  own,  are  all  of  defiance  and  mourning,  moods 
so  natural  to  her  that  she  seems  to  scarcely  need  the 
intervention  of  words  in  their  confession.  The  wild, 
melancholy,  and  elevating  music  of  which  Charlotte 
wisely  speaks  is  strong  enough  to  move  our  very  hearts 
to  sorrow  in  such  verses  as  the  following,  things  which 
would  not  touch  us  at  all  were  they  written  in  prose  ; 
which  have  no  personal  note.  Yet  listen — 

"  Death  !  that  struck  when  I  was  most  confiding 

In  my  certain  faith  of  joy  to  be — 
Strike  again,  Time's  withered  branch  dividing 
From  the  fresh  root  of  Eternity  ! 



"  Leaves,  upon  Time's  branch,  were  growing  brightly, 

Full  of  sap,  and  full  of  silver  dew  ; 
Birds  beneath  its  shelter  gathered  nightly  ; 
Daily  round  its  flowers  the  wild  bees  flew. 

"  Sorrow  passed,  and  plucked  the  golden  blossom." 
Solemn,  haunting  with  a  passion  infinitely  beyond  the 
mere  words,  the  mere  image ;  because,  in  some  wonder- 
ful way,  the  very  music  of  the  verse  impresses,  reminds 
us,  declares  the  holy  inevitable  losses  of  death. 

A  finer  poem  yet  is  'Remembrance/  written  two 
years  later,  in  the  March  of  1845  ;  here  the  words  and 
the  thought  are  worthy  of  the  music  and  the  mood.  It 
has  vital  passion  in  it ;  though  it  can  scarcely  be  personal 
passion,  since  ," fifteen  wild  Decembers"  before  1845, 
Emily  Bronte  was  a  girl  of  twelve  years  old,  companion- 
less,  save  for  still  living  sisters,  Branwell,  her  aunt,  and 
the  vicarage  servants.  Here,  as  elsewhere  in  the  present 
volume,  the  creative  instinct  reveals  itself  in  imagining 
emotions  and  not  characters.  The  artist  has  supplied 
the  passion  of  the  lover. 

"  Cold  in  the  earth — and  the  deep  snow  piled  above  thee, 

Far,  far  removed,  cold  in  the  dreary  grave  ! 
Have  I  forgot,  my  only  Love,  to  love  thee, 
Severed  at  last  by  Time's  all-severing  wave  ? 

"  Now,  when  alone,  do  my  thoughts  no  longer  hover 

Over  the  mountains,  on  that  northern  shore, 
Resting  their  wings  where  heath  and  fern-leaves  cover 
Thy  noble  heart  for  ever,  evermore  ? 

"Cold  in  the  earth — and  fifteen  wild  Decembers, 

From  those  brown  hills,  have  melted  into  spring  : 
Faithful,  indeed,  is  the  spirit  that  remembers 
After  such  years  of  change  and  suffering  ! 

"  Sweet  Love  of  youth,  forgive,  if  I  forget  thee, 
While  the  world's  tide  is  bearing  me  along  ; 
Other  desires  and  other  hopes  beset  me, 

Hopes  which  obscure,  but  cannot  do  thee  wrong. 

136  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

"  No  later  light  has  lightened  up  my  heaven, 
No  second  morn  has  ever  shone  for  me  ; 
All  my  life's  bliss  from  thy  dear  life  was  given, 
All  my  life's  bliss  is  in  the  grave  with  thee. 

"  But,  when  the  days  of  golden  dreams  had  perished, 

And  even  Despair  was  powerless  to  destroy, 
Then  did  I  learn  how  existence  could  be  cherished, 
Strengthened,  and  fed  without  the  aid  of  joy. 

"  Then  did  I  check  the  tears  of  useless  passion — 

Weaned  my  young  soul  from  yearning  after  thine  j 
Sternly  denied  its  burning  wish  to  hasten 
Down  to  that  tomb  already  more  than  mine. 

"  And,  even  yet,  I  dare  not  let  it  languish, 

Dare  not  indulge  in  memory's  rapturous  pain  ; 
Once  drinking  deep  of  that  divinest  anguish, 
How  could  I  seek  the  empty  world  again  ?  " 

Better  still,  of  a  standard  excellence,  is  a  little  poem, 
which,  by  some  shy  ostrich  prompting,  Emily  chose  to 


"  Riches  I  hold  in  light  esteem  ; 
And  Love  I  laugh  to  scorn  ; 
And  lust  of  fame  was  but  a  dream 
That  vanished  with  the  morn  : 

"  And  if  I  pray,  the  only  prayer 
That  moves  my  lips  for  me 
Is,  '  Leave  the  heart  that  now  I  bear, 
And  give  me  liberty  ! ' 

"  Yes,  as  my  swift  days  near  their  goal, 

'Tis  all  that  I  implore  ; 
In  life  and  death,  a  chainless  soul, 
With  courage  to  endure." 

Throughout  the  book  one  recognises  the  capacity  for 
producing  something  finer  and  quite  different  from  what 
is  here  produced ;  one  recognises  so  much,  but  not  the 


author  of  *  Wuthering  Heights.'  Grand  impressions  of 
mood  and  landscape  reveal  a  remarkably  receptive 
artistic  temperament ;  splendid  and  vigorous  movement 
of  lines  shows  that  the  artist  is  a  poet.  Then  we  are  in 
a  cul-de-sac.  There  is  no  hint  of  what  kind  of  poet — 
too  reserved  to  be  consistently  lyric,  there  is  not  suffi- 
cient evidence  of  the  dramatic  faculty  to  help  us  on  to 
the  true  scent.  All  we  can  say  is  that  we  have  before 
us  a  mind  capable  of  very  complete  and  real  illusions, 
haunted  by  imagination,  always  fantastic,  and  often 
terrible ;  a  temperament  reserved,  fearless  and  brood- 
ing ;  a  character  of  great  strength  and  ruggedness,  ex- 
tremely tenacious  of  impressions.  We  must  call  in  Mon- 
sieur Taine  and  his  Milieu  to  account  for  '  Wuthering 

This  first  volume  reveals  an  overpowering  imagination 
which  has  not  yet  reached  its  proper  outlet.  It  is  pain- 
ful, in  reading  these  early  poems,  to  feel  how  ruthless 
and  horrible  that  strong  imagination  often  was,  as  yet 
directed  on  no  purposed  line.  Sometimes,  indeed,  sweet 
fancies  came  to  Emily,  but  often  they  were  visions  of 
black  dungeons,  scenes  of  death,  and  hopeless  parting,  of 
madness  and  agony. 

"  So  stood  I,  in  Heaven's  glorious  sun, 

And  in  the  glare  of  Hell ; 
My  spirit  drank  a  mingled  tone, 
Of  seraph's  song,  and  demon's  moan  ; 
What  my  soul  bore,  my  soul  alone 
Within  itself  may  tell !  " 

It  is  painful,  indeed,  to  tfiink  that  the  surroundings  of 
this  violent  imagination,  with  its  bias  towards  the  capri- 
cious and  the  terrifying,  were  loneliness,  sorrow,  enforced 
companionship  with  degradation  ;  a  life  so  bitter,  for  a 
long  time,  and  made  so  bitter  through  another's  fault, 



that  Emily  welcomed  her  fancies,  even  the  gloomiest,  as. 
a  happy  outlet  from  reality. 

"  Oh,  dreadful  is  the  check — intense  the  agony — 
When  the  ear  begins  to  hear,  and  the  eye  begins  to  see ; 
When  the  pulse  begins  to  throb,  the  brain  to  think  again, 
The  soul  to  feel  the  flesh,  and  the  flesh  to  feel  the  chain." 

Such  were  the  verses  that  Charlotte  discovered  one 
autumn  day  of  1845,  which  surprised  her,  with  good 
reason,  by  their  originality  and  music.  Emily  was  not 
pleased  by  what  in  her  eyes,  so  jealous  of  her  liberty, 
must  have  seemed  a  deliberate  interference  with  her 
property.  "  My  sister  Emily,"  continues  Charlotte, 
"  was  not  a  person  of  demonstrative  character,  nor  one 
on  the  recesses  of  whose  mind  and  feelings  even  those 
nearest  and  dearest  to  her  could  intrude  unlicensed ;  it 
took  hours  to  reconcile  her  to  the  discovery  I  had  made, 
and  days  to  persuade  her  that  such  poems  merited 
publication.  I  knew,  however,  that  a  mind  like  hers 
could  not  be  without  some  latent  spark  of  honourable 
ambition,  and  refused  to  be  discouraged  in  my  attempts 
to  fan  that  spark  to  flame. 

"  Meantime,  my  younger  sister  quietly  produced  some 
of  her  own  compositions,  intimating  that  since  Emily's 
had  given  me  pleasure,  I  might  like  to  look  at  some  of 
hers.  I  could  not  but  be  a  partial  judge,  yet  I  thought 
that  these  verses,  too,  had  a  sweet  sincere  pathos  of  their 

Only  a  partial  judge  could  find  anything  much  to 
praise  in  gentle  Anne's  trivial  verses.  Had  the  book  an 
index  of  first  lines,  what  a  scathing  criticism  on  the 
contents  would  it  be  ! 

"  Sweet  are  thy  strains,  celestial  bard." 

"  I'll  rest  me  in  this  sheltered  bower." 

"  Oh,  I  am  very  weary,  though  tears  no  longer  flow." 



From  such  beginnings  we  too  clearly  foresee  the 
hopeless  bathos  of  the  end.  Poor  child,  her  real,  deep 
sorrows,  expressed  in  such  worn-out  ill-fitting  phrases, 
are  as  little  touching  as  the  beauty  of  a  London  shop- 
girl under  the  ready-made  cast-off  adornments  of  her 
second-hand  finery. 

Charlotte,  however,  knowing  the  real  sorrow,  the  real 
meekness  that  inspired  them,  not  unnaturally  put  into 
the  trivial  verses  the  pathos  of  the  writer's  circumstances. 
Of  a  truth,  her  own  poems  are  not  such  as  would  justify 
any  great  rigour  of  criticism.  They  are  often,  as  poems, 
actually  inferior  to  Anne's,  her  manner  of  dragging  in  a 
tale  or  a  moral  at  the  end  of  a  lyric  having  quite  a 
comical  effect ;  yet,  on  the  whole,  her  share  of  the  book 
clearly  distinguishes  her  as  an  eloquent  and  imaginative 
raconteuse,  at  the  same  time  that  it  denies  her  the 
least  sprout,  the  smallest  leaf,  of  that  flowerless  wreath, 
of  bays  which  Emily  might  claim.  But  at  that  time 
the  difference  was  not  so  clearly  distinguishable  ;  though. 
Charlotte  ever  felt  and  owned  her  sister's  superiority  in. 
this  respect,  it  was  not  recognised  as  of  a  sort  to  quite 
outshine  her  own  little  tales  in  verse,  and  quite  outlustre 
Anne's  pious  effusions. 

A  packet  of  manuscript  was  selected,  a  little  packet 
written  in  three  different  hands  and  signed  by  three  names. 
The  sisters  did  not  wish  to  reveal  their  identity ;  they 
decided  on  a  nom  de  plume,  and  chose  the  common 
north-country  surname  of  Bell.  They  did  not  wish  to 
be  known  as  women :  "  we  had  a  vague  impression  that 
authoresses  are  liable  to  be  looked  on  with  prejudices; " 
yet  their  fastidious  honour  prevented  them  from  wearing 
a  mask  they  had  no  warrant  for  ;  to  satisfy  both  scruples 
they  assumed  names  that  might  equally  belong  to  a  man 
or  a  woman.  In  the  part  of  Yorkshire  where  they  lived 

140  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

children  are  often  christened  by  family  names  ;  over  the 
shops  they  would  see  "  Sunderland  Akroyd,"  varied  by 
"  Pighills  Sunderland,"  with  scarce  a  John  or  James  to 
bear  them  company.  So  there  was  nothing  strange  to 
them  in  the  fashion  so  ingeniously  turned  "to  their  own 
uses.  Ellis  veiled  Emily  ;  Currer,  Charlotte ;  Acton, 
Anne.  The  first  and  last  are  common  names  enough — 
a  Miss  Currer  who  was  one  of  trie-subscribers  to  Cowan's 
Bridge  may  have  suggested  her  pseudonym  to  Charlotte. 
At  last  every  detail  was  discussed,  decided,  and  the 
packet  sent  off  to  London  to  try  its  fortunes  in  the 
world :  — 

"  This  bringing  out  of  our  little  book  was  hard  work. 
As  was  to  be  expected  neither  we  nor  our  poems  were  at 
all  wanted  ;  but  for  this  we  had  been  prepared  at  the 
outset ;  though  inexperienced  ourselves,  we  had  read 
the  experience  of  others.  The  great  puzzle  lay  in 
the  difficulty  of  getting  answers  of  any  kind  from  the 
publishers  to  whom  we  applied.  Being  greatly  harassed 
by  this  obstacle,  I  ventured  to  apply  to  the  Messrs. 
Chambers  of  Edinburgh  for  a  word  of  advice  :  they  may 
have  forgotten  the  circumstance,  but  /  have  not ;  for 
from  them  I  received  a  brief  and  business-like  but  civi 
and  sensible  reply,  on  which  we  acted,  and  at  last  made 
a  way."  * 

Ultimately  the  three  sisters  found  a  publisher  who 
would  undertake  the  work  upon  commission  ;  a  favour- 
able answer  came  from  Messrs.  Aylott  &  Jones,  of 
Paternoster  Row,  who  estimated  the  expense  of  the 
book  at  thirty  guineas.  It  was  a  great  deal  for  the 
three  sisters  to  spare  from  their  earnings,  but  they  were 
eager  to  print,  eager  to  make  sacrifices,  as  though  in 
some  dim  way  they  saw  already  the  glorious  goal.  But 
*  *  Memoir.'  C.  B. 


at  present  there  was  business  to  do.  They  bought  one 
of  the  numerous  little  primers  that  are  always  on  sale 
to  show  the  poor  vain  moth  of  amateur  authorship  how 
least  to  burn  his  wings — little  books  more  eagerly  bought 
and  read  than  any  of  those  that  they  bring  into  the 
world.  Such  a  publisher's  guide,  meant  for  ambitious 
schoolboys,  the  Brontes  bought  and  studied  as  anxiously 
as  they.  By  the  end  of  February  all  was  settled,  the 
type  decided  upon,  the  money  despatched,  the  printers 
at  work.  Emily  Bronte's  copy  is  dated  May  /th,  1846. 

What  eagerness  at  the  untying  of  the  parcel  in  which 
those  first  copies  came  !  What  disappointment,  chequered 
with  ecstasy,  at  reading  their  own  verse,  unaltered,  yet 
in  print !  An  experience  not  so  common  then  as  now  ; 
to  be  a  poetess  in  those  days  had  a  certain  distinction, 
and  the  three  sisters  must  have  anxiously  waited  for  a 
greeting.  The  poems  had  been  despatched  to  many 
magazines  :  Colburnes,  Bentley's,  Hood's,  Jerrolds,  Black- 
'wood's,  their  early  idol ;  to  the  Edinburgh  Review, 
Taifs  Edinburgh  Magazine,  the  Dublin  University 
Magazine ;  to  the  Athen&um,  the  Literary  Gazette, 
the  Critic,  and  to  the  Daily  News,  the  Times,  and  to 
the  Britannia  newspaper.  Surely  from  some  quarter 
they  would  hear  such  an  authentic  word  of  warning  or 
welcome  as  should  confirm  at  once  their  hopes  or  their 
despairs.  They  had  grown  used  to  waiting ;  but  they 
had  long  to  wait.  At  last,  on  July  4th,  the  Athen&um 
reviewed  their  book  in  a  short  paragraph,  and  it  is  remark- 
able that,  though  in  such  reviews  of  the  poems  as  appeared 
after  the  publication  of  '  Jane  Eyre/  it  is  always  Currer 
Bell's  "fine  sense  of  nature,"  Currer  Bell's  "matured 
intellect  and  masterly  hand,"  that  wins  all  the  praise  ; 
still,  in  this  early  notice,  the  yet  unblinded  critic  has  per- 
ceived to  whom  the  palm  is  due.  Ellis  Bell  he  places 

142  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

first  of  the  three  supposed  brothers,  naming  him  "  a  fine 
-quaint  spirit  with  an  evident  power  of  wing  that  may 
reach  heights  not  here  attempted."  Next  to  him  the 
critic  ranks  Currer,  lastly  Anne.  Scarce  another  notice 
did  they  see. 

The  little  book  was  evidently  a  failure  ;  it  had  fallen 
still-born  from  the  press.  Were  all  their  hopes  to  die  as 
soon  as  they  were  born  ?  At  least  they  resolved  not  to 
be  too  soon  baffled,  and  already,  in  the  thick  of  their 
disappointment,  began  to  lay  the  plots  of  the  novels 
they  would  write.  Like  our  army,  they  gained  their 
battles  by  never  owning  they  were  beaten. 

They  kept  it  all  to  themselves,  this  disappointment, 
these  resolutions.  When  the  inquisitive  postman  asked 
Mr.  Bronte  if  he  knew  who  was  that  Mr.  Currer  Bell  for 
whom  so  many  letters  always  came,  the  old  gentleman 
answered  with  a  sense  of  authority,  "My  good  man, 
there  is  no  such  person  in  the  parish  ;"  and  when,  on 
rare  occasions,  Branwell  came  into  the  room  where  they 
were  writing,  no  word  was  said  of  the  work  that  was 
going  on.  Not  even  to  the  sisterly  Ellen,  so  near  to  all 
their  hearts,  was  any  confession  made  of  the  way  they 
spent  their  time. 

"  We  have  done  nothing  (to  speak  of)  since  you  were 
here,"  says  conscientious  Anne.  Nevertheless  their 
friend  drew  her  conclusions.  About  this  time  she  came 
to  stay  at  Haworth,  and  sometimes  (a  little  amused  at 
their  reticence)  she  would  tease  them  with  her  suspicions, 
to  Charlotte's  alarmed  surprise.  Once,  at  this  time, 
when  they  were  walking  on  the  moor  together,  a  sudden 
change  and  light  came  into  the  sky.  "Look,"  said 
Charlotte  ;  and  the  four  girls  looked  up  and  saw  three 
suns  shining  clearly  overhead.  They  stood  a  little 
while  silently  gazing  at 'the  beautiful  parhelion;  Char- 


lotte,  her  friend,  and  Anne  clustered  together,  Emily  a 
little  higher,  standing  on  a  heathery  knoll.  "That  is 
you  !"  said  Ellen  at  last.  "  You  are  the  three  suns." 
"Hush!"  cried  Charlotte,  indignant  at  the  too  shrewd 
nonsense  of  her  friend  ;  but  as  Ellen,  her  suspicions  con- 
firmed by  Charlotte's  violence,  lowered  her  eyes  to  the 
earth  again,  she  looked  a  moment  at  Emily.  She  was 
still  standing  on  her  knoll,  quiet,  satisfied  ;  and  round 
her  lips  there  hovered  a  very  soft  and  happy  smile.  She 
was  not  angry,  the  independent  Emily.  She  had  liked 
the  little  speech. 

144  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 



WHILE  Emily  Bronte  was  striving  to  create  a  world  of 
fancy  and  romance  natural  to  her  passionate  spirit,  the 
real,  everyday  existence  in  which  she  had  to  work  and 
endure  was  becoming  day  by  day  more  anxious  and 
troubled.  An  almost  unliveable  life  it  seems,  recalling 
it,  stifled  with  the  vulgar  tragedy  of  Branwell's  woes, 
the  sordid  cares  that  his  debts  entailed,  the  wearing- 
anxiety  that  watched  the  oncoming  blindness  of  old 
Mr.  Bronte.  These  months  of  1846  during  which,  let 
us  remember,  Emily  was  writing  'Wuthering  Heights/ 
must  have  been  the  heaviest  and  dreariest  of  her  days  ; 
it  was  during  their  weary  course  that  she  at  last  per- 
ceived how  utterly  hopeless,  how  insensible  to  good, 
must  be  the  remaining  life  of  her  brother. 

For  so  long  as  the  future  was  left  him,  Branwell  never 
reached  the  limit  of  abasement.  He  drank  to  drown 
sorrow,  to  deaden  memory  and  the  flight  of  time ;  he 
went  far,  but  not  too  far  to  turn  back  when  the  day 
should  dawn  which  should  recall  him  to  prosperity  and 
happiness.  He  was  still,  though  perverted  and  debased, 
capable  of  reform  and  susceptible  to  holy  influences. 
He  had  not  finally  cast  away  goodness  and  honour ; 
they  were  but  momentarily  discarded,  like  rings  taken 
off  for  heavy  work ;  by-and-by  he  would  put  them  on 


Suddenly  the  future  was  taken  away.  One  morning, 
about  six  months  after  his  dismissal,  a  letter  came  for 
Branwell  announcing  the  death  of  his  former  employer. 
All  he  had  ever  hoped  for  lay  at  his  feet — the  good, 
wronged  man  was  dead.  His  wife,  his  wealth,  should 
now  make  Branwell  glad.  A  new  life,  earned  by  sin  and 
hatred,  should  begin ;  a  new  good  life,  honourable  and 
happy.  It  was  in  Branwell's  nature  to  be  glad  when 
peace  and  honour  came  to  him,  although  he  would  make 
no  effort  to  attain  them,  and  this  morning  he  was  very 

"  He  fair  danced  down  the  churchyard  as  if  he  were 
out  of  his  mind  ;  he  was  so  fond  of  that  woman,"  says 
my  informant. 

The  next  morning  he  rose,  dressed  himself  with  care, 
and  prepared  for  a  journey,  but  before  he  had  even  set 
out  from  Haworth  two  men  came  riding  to  the  village 
post  haste.  They  sent  for  Branwell,  and  when  he  arrived, 
in  a  great  state  of  excitement,  one  of  the  riders  dis- 
mounted and  went  with  him  into  the  "  Black  Bull." 
They  went  into  the  brown  parlour  of  the  inn,  the  cheer- 
ful, wainscotted  parlour,  where  Branwell  had  so  often 
lorded  it  over  his  boon  companions  from  his  great  three- 
cornered  chair.  After  some  time  the  messenger  rose 
and  left ;  and  those  who  were  in  the  inn  thought  they 
heard  a  strange  noise  in  the  parlour — a  bleating  like  a 
calf  s.  Yet,  being  busy  people,  they  did  not  go  in  to  see 
if  anything  had  happened,  and  amid  the  throng  of  their 
employments  the  sound  passed  out  of  their  ears  and  out 
of  their  memory.  Hours  afterwards  the  young  girl  who 
used  to  help  in  the  housework  at  the  inn,  the  Anne  who 
still  remembers  Branwell's  fluent  greetings,  found  occa- 
sion to  enter  the  parlour.  She  went  in  and  found  him 
on  the  floor,  looking  changed  and  dreadful.  He  had 


146  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

fallen  down  in  a  sort  of  stupefied  fit.     After  that  day  he 
was  an  altered  being. 

The  message  he  had  heard  had  changed  the  current  of 
his  life.  It  was  not  the  summons  he  expected;  but  a 
prayer  from  the  woman  he  loved  not  to  come  near  her,  not 
to  tempt  her  to  ruin  ;  if  she  saw  him  once,  the  care  of  her 
children,  the  trust  of  their  fortunes,  all  was  forfeited.  She 
entreated  him  to  keep  away ;  anxious,  perhaps,  in  this 
sudden  loneliness  of  death,  to  retrieve  the  past,  or  by 
some  tender  superstition  made  less  willing  to  betray  the 
dead  than  the  living ;  or,  it  may  be,  merely  eager  to 
retain  at  all  costs  the  rank,  the  station,  the  honours  to 
which  she  was  accustomed.  Be  it  as  it  may,  Branwell 
found  himself  forgotten. 

"  Oh,  dreadful  heart  of  woman, 
That  in  one  day  forgets  what  man  remembers, 
Forgetting  him  therewith." 

After  that  day  he  was  different.  He  despaired,  and 
drank  himself  to  death,  drinking  to  the  grave  and  for- 
getfulness,  gods  of  his  Sabbath,  and  borrowing  a  transient 
pleasure  at  fearful  interest.  But  to  such  a  man  the  one 
supreme  temptation  is  enjoyment :  it  must  be  had, 
though  life  and  heaven  go  forfeit.  And  while  he 
caroused,  "  and  by  his  whole  manner  gave  indications  of 
intense  enjoyment,"*  his  old  father  grew  quite  blind, 
Anne  day  by  day  more  delicate  and  short  of  breath, 
ambitious  Charlotte  pined  like  an  eagle  in  a  cage,  and 
Emily,  writing  '  Wuthering  Heights,'  called  those 
affected  who  found  the  story  more  terrible  than  life. 

It  was  she  who  saw  most  of  her  abandoned  brother, 
for  Anne  could  only  shudder  at  his  sin,  and  Charlotte 
was  too  indignant  for  pity.  But  Emily,  the  stern,  charit- 

*  George  Searle  Phillips. 


able  woman,  who  spared  herself  no  pang,  who  loved  to 
carry  tenderly  the  broken-winged  nestlings  in  her  hard- 
working hands,  Emily  was  not  revolted  by  his  weakness. 
Shall  I  despise  the  deer  for  his  timid  swiftness  to  fly,  or 
the  leveret  because  it  cannot  die  bravely,  or  mock  the 
death-agony  of  the  wolf  because  the  beast  is  gaunt  and 
foul  to  see  ?  she  asks  herself  in  one  of  the  few  personal 
poems  she  has  left  us.  No !  An  emphatic  no  ;  for  Emily 
Bronte  had  a  place  in  her  heart  for  all  the  wild  children 
of  nature,  and  to  despise  them  for  their  natural  instincts 
was  impossible  to  her.  And  thus  it  came  about  that 
she  ceased  to  grow  indignant  at  Branwell's  follies ;  she 
made  up  her  mind  to  accept  with  angerless  sorrow  his 
natural  vices.  All  that  was  left  of  her  ready  disdain  was 
an  extreme  patience  which  expected  no  reform,  asked 
no  improvement ;  the  patience  she  had  for  the  leveret 
and  the  wolf,  things  contemptible  and  full  of  harm,  yet 
not  so  by  their  own  choice  ;  the  patience  of  acquiescent 
and  hopeless  despair. 

Branwell's  pity  was  all  for  himself.  He  did  not  spare 
the  pious  household  forced  into  the  contamination  of  his 
evil  habits.  "  Nothing  happens  at  Haworth,"  says 
Charlotte ;  "  nothing  at  least  of  a  pleasant  kind.  One 
little  incident  occurred  about  a  week  ago  to  sting  us 
into  life  ;  but,  if  it  give  no  more  pleasure  for  you  to  hear 
than  it  does  for  us  to  witness,  you  will  scarcely  thank 
me  for  adverting  to  it.  It  was  merely  the  arrival  of  a 
sheriff's  officer  on  a  visit  to  Branwell,  inviting  him  either 
to  pay  his  debts  or  take  a  trip  to  York.  Of  course  his 
debts  had  to  be  paid.  It  is  not  agreeable  to  lose  money, 
time  after  time,  in  this  way ;  but  where  is  the  use  of 
dwelling  on  such  subjects.  It  will  make  him  no  better."  * 

Reproaches  only  hardened  his  heart  and  made  him 
*  Mrs.  Gaskell. 

L   3 

148  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

feel  himself  more  than  ever  abused  by  circumstances 
and  fate.  "  Sometimes,"  *  says  Mr.  Phillips,  "  he  would 
complain  of  the  way  he  was  treated  at  home,  and,  as  an 
instance,  related  the  following  : — 

"  One  of  the  Sunday-school  girls,  in  whom  he  and  all 
his  house  took  much  interest,  fell  very  sick,  and  they 
were  afraid  she  would  not  live. 

" '  I  went  to  see  the  poor  little  thing/  he  said,  '  sat  with 
her  half-an-hour  and  read  a  psalm  to  her  and  a  hymn  at 
her  request.  I  felt  very  much  like  praying  with  her  too/ 
he  added,  his  voice  trembling  with  emotion,  'but  you 
see  I  was  not  good  enough.  How  dare  I  pray  for 
another,  who  had  almost  forgotten  how  to  pray  for 
myself  ?  I  came  away  with  a  heavy  heart,  for  I  felt 
sure  she  would  die,  and  went  straight  home,  where  I  fell 
into  melancholy  musings.  I  wanted  somebody  to  cheer 
me.  I  often  do  ;  but  no  kind  word  finds  its  way  to  my 
ears,  much  less  to  my  heart.  Charlotte  observed  my 
depression,  and  asked  what  ailed  me.  So  I  told  her. 
She  looked  at  me  with  a  look  which  I  shall  never  forget, 
if  I  live  to  be  a  hundred  years  old — which  I  never  shall. 
It  was  not  like  her  at  all.  It  wounded  me,  as  if  some 
one  had  struck  me  a  blow  in  the  mouth.  It  involved 
ever  so  many  things  in  it.  It  was  a  dubious  look.  It 
ran  over  me,  questioning  and  examining,  as  if  I  had 
been  a  wild  beast.  It  said,  ( Did  my  ears  deceive  me, 
or  did  I  hear  ought  ? '  And  then  came  the  painful, 
baffled  expression  which  was  worse  than  all.  It  said, 
*  I  wonder  if  that's  true  ? '  But,  as  she  left  the  room,  she 
seemed  to  accuse  herself  of  having  wronged  me,  and 
smiled  kindly  upon  me  and  said,  '  She  is  my  little 
scholar  and  I  will  go  and  see  her.'  I  replied  not  a  word. 
I  was  too  much  cut  up.  When  she  was  gone,  I  came 
*  '  Branwell  Bronte.'  G.  S.  Phillips. 


over  here  to  the  "  Black  Bull "  and  made  a  night  of  it  in 
sheer  disgust  and  desperation.  Why  could  they  not 
give  me  some  credit  when  I  was  trying  to  be  good  ?' " 

In  such  wise  the  summer  of  1846  drew  on,  wearily 
enough,  with  increased  economies  in  the  already  frugal 
household,  that  Branwell's  debts  might  honourably  be 
paid,  with  gathering  fears  for  the  father,  on  whom 
dyspepsia  and  blindness  were  laying  heavy  hands.  He 
could  no  longer  see  to  read  ;  he,  the  great  walker  who 
loved  to  ramble  alone,  could  barely  grope  his  way  about ; 
all  that  was  left  to  him  of  sight  was  the  ability  to  recog- 
nise well-known  figures  standing  in  a  strong  light.  Yet 
he  still  continued  to  preach  ;  standing  grey  and  sightless 
in  the  pulpit,  uttering  what  words  (perforce  unstudied) 
•came  to  his  lips.  Himself  in  his  sorrowful  age  and  stern 
endurance  a  most  noble  and  comprehensible  sermon. 

His  spirits  were  much  depressed  ;  for  now  he  could  no 
longer  forget  himself  in  his  lonely  studies,  no  longer  walk 
on  the  free  moors  alone  when  trouble  invaded  the  narrow 
house  below.  He  lived  now  of  necessity  in  intimate 
relation  with  his  children  ;  he  depended  on  them.  And 
now  he  made  acquaintance  with  the  heroic  nature  of  his 
daughters,  and  saw  the  petty  drudgery  of  their  lives,  and 
how  worthily  they  turned  it  to  a  grace  in  the  wearing  of 
it.  And  now  he  saw  clearly  the  vain,  dependent,  pas- 
sionate temperament  of  his  son,  and  knew  how,  by  the 
lack  of  training,  the  plant  had  been  ruined  and  draggled 
in  the  mire,  which  might  have  beautifully  flowered  and 
borne  good  fruit  had  it  been  staked  and  supported  ;  the 
poor  espalier  thing  that  could  not  stand  alone.  Nemesis 
had  visited  his  home.  He  felt  the  consequences  of  his 
selfishness,  his  arrogance,  his  cold  isolation,  and  bitterly, 
bitterly  he  mourned. 

The  cataract  grew  month  by  month,  a  thickening  veil 

J  50  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

that  blotted  out  the  world  ;  and  month  by  month  the  old 
blind  man  sat  wearily  thinking  through  the  day  of  his 
dear  son's  ruin,  for  he  had  ever  loved  Branwell  the  best, 
and  lay  at  night  listening  for  his  footsteps  ;  while  below, 
alone,  his  daughter  watched  as  wearily  for  the  prodigal's 

The  three  girls  looked  on  and  longed  to  help.  All 
that  they  could  do  they  did,  Charlotte  being  her  father's 
constant  helper  and  companion  ;  but  all  they  could  do- 
was  little.  They  would  not  reconcile  themselves  to  see 
him  sink  into  blindness.  They  busied  themselves  in  col- 
lecting what  information  they  could  glean  concerning 
operations  upon  cataract,  and  the  names  of  oculists. 
But  at  present  there  was  nothing  to  do  but  wait  and 
endure ;  for  even  they,  with  their  limited  knowledge,, 
could  tell  that  their  father's  eyes  were  not  ready  yet  for 
the  surgeon's  knife. 

Meanwhile  they  worked  in  secret  at  their  novels.  So 
soon  as  the  poems  had  been  sent  off,  and  even  when 
it  was  evident  that  that  venture,  too,  had  failed,  the 
sisters  determined  to  try  and  earn  a  livelihood  by 
writing.  They  could  no  longer  leave  their  home,  their 
father  being  helpless  and  Branwell  worse  than  helpless  ; 
yet,  with  ever-increasing  expenses  and  no  earnings,  bare 
living  was  difficult  to  compass.  The  future,  too,  was 
uncertain  ;  should  their  father's  case  prove  hopeless, 
should  he  become  quite  blind,  ill,  incapable  of  work,, 
they  would  be  homeless  indeed.  With  such  gloomy 
boding  in  their  hearts,  with  such  stern  impelling  neces- 
sity bidding  them  strive  and  ever  strive  again,  as  a 
baffled  swimmer  strives  for  land,  these  three  sisters 
began  their  work.  Two  of  them,  in  after  time,  were 
to  be  known  through  all  the  world,  were  to  be  influ- 
ences for  all  time  to  come  and,  a  new  glory  in  the  world 


not  known  before  their  days,  were  to  make  oken-of 
Mrs.  Browning,  the  perfect  trinity  of  English  i-oom 
fame."*  But  with  little  thought  of  this,  heavily  and  veAp 
wearily,  they  set  out  upon  their  undertaking. 

Every  evening  when  the  sewing  was  put  away  the 
writing  was  begun,  the  three  sisters,  sitting  round  the 
table,  or  more  often  marching  round  and  round  the  room 
as  in  their  schoolgirl  days,  would  hold  solemn  council 
over  the  progress  of  their  work.  The  division  of  chapters, 
the  naming  of  characters,  the  progress  of  events,  was  then 
decided,  so  that  each  lent  a  hand  to  the  other's  work. 
Then,  such  deliberations  done,  the  paper  would  be  drawn 
out,  and  the  casual  notes  of  the  day  corrected  and  writ 
fair ;  and  for  an  hour  or  more  there  would  be  no  sound 
save  the  scratching  of  pens  on  the  paper  and  the  gusty 
wailing  of  the  wind  outside. 

Such  methodical  work  makes  rapid  progress.  In  a 
few  months  each  sister  had  a  novel  completed.  Char- 
lotte, a  grave  and  quiet  study  of  Belgian  life  and  cha- 
racter, '  The  Professor  ; '  Anne,  a  painstaking  account  of 
a  governess's  trials,  which  she  entitled  'Agnes  Grey.' 
Emily's  story  was  very  different,  and  less  perceptibly 
interwoven  with  her  own  experience.  We  all  know  at 
least  the  name  of  '  Wuthering  Heights.' 

The  novels  were  sent  off,  and  at  first  seemed  even  less 
likely  of  success  than  the  school  had  been,  or  the  book  of 
verses.  Publisher  after  publisher  rejected  them  ;  then, 
thinking  that  perhaps  it  was  not  cunning  to  send  the 
three  novels  in  a  batch,  since  the  ill-success  of  one  might 
prejudice  all,  the  sisters  sent  them  separately  to  try  their 
chance.  But  ever  with  the  same  result — month  after 
month,  came  rejection. 

At    home    affairs    continued    no    less    disheartening. 
*  A.  C.  Swinburne.     *  Note  on  Charlotte  Bronte/ 

1 5°  EMIL  Y  BRONT£. 

that  blof  Often  laid  Up  wjth  violent  fits  of  sickness, 
^m4ronte  becoming  more  utterly  blind.  At  last,  in 
^j  end  of  July,  Emily  and  Charlotte  set  out  for  Man- 
chester to  consult  an  oculist.  There  they  heard  of  Mr. 
Wilson  as  the  best,  and  to  him  they  went ;  but  only  to 
find  that  no  decisive  opinion  could  be  given  until  their 
father's  eyes  had  been  examined.  Yet,  not  disheartened, 
they  went  back  to  Haworth ;  for  at  least  they  had  dis- 
covered a  physician  and  had  made  sure  that,  even  at 
their  father's  advanced  age,  an  operation  might  prove 
successful.  Therefore,  at  the  end  of  August,  Charlotte, 
who  was  her  father's  chief  companion  and  the  most  easily 
spared  from  home,  took  old  Mr.  Bronte  to  Manchester. 
Mr.  Wilson  pronounced  his  eyes  ready  for  the  operation, 
and  the  old  man  and  his  daughter  went  into  lodgings  for 
a  month.  "  I  wonder  how  Emily  and  Anne  will  get  on 
at  home  with  Branwell,"  says  Charlotte,  accustomed  to 
be  the  guide  and  leader  of  that  little  household. 

Hardly  enough,  no  doubt ;  for  Anne  was  little  fitted 
now  to  struggle  against  fate.  She  never  had  completely 
rallied  from  the  prolonged  misery  of  her  sojourn  with 
Branwell  in  that  fatal  house  which  was  to  blight  their 
future  and  be  blighted  by  them.  She  grew  weaker  and 
weaker,  that  "  gentle  little  one,"  so  tender,  so  ill  fitted  to 
her  rugged  and  gloomy  path  of  life.  Emily  looked  oa 
with  a  breaking  heart ;  trouble  encompassed  her  on  every 
side  ;  her  father  blind  in  Manchester  ;  her  brother  drink- 
ing himself  to  death  at  home  ;  her  sister  failing,  paling 
day  by  day ;  and  every  now  and  then  a  letter  would 
come  announcing  that  such  and  such  a  firm  of  pub- 
lishers had  no  use  for  'Agnes  Grey'  and  'Wuthering 

Charlotte  in  Manchester  fared  little  better.  'The 
Professor'  had  been  returned  to  her  on  the  very  day 


of  her  father's  operation,  when  (bearing  this  unspoken-of 
blow  as  best  she  might)  she  had  to  stay  in  the  room 
while  the  cataract  was  removed  from  his  eyes.  Exer- 
cise makes  courage  strong  ;  that  evening,  when  her  father 
in  his  darkened  room  might  no  longer  speak  or  be  spoken 
to,  that  very  evening  she  began  '  Jane  Eyre.' 

This  was  being  braver  than  brave  Emily,  who  has  left 
us  nothing,  save  a  few  verses,  written  later  than  '  Wuther- 
ing  Heights.'  But  at  Haworth  there  was  labour  and  to 
spare  for  every  instant  of  the  busy  days,  and  Charlotte, 
in  Manchester,  found  her  unaccustomed  leisure  and  un- 
occupied confinement  very  dreary. 

Towards  the  end  of  September  Mr.  Bronte  was  pro- 
nounced on  a  fair  way  to  recovery,  and  he  and  Charlotte 
set  out  for  Haworth.  It  was  a  happy  home-coming,  for 
things  had  prospered  better  than  Charlotte  had  dared  to 
hope  during  the  latter  weeks  of  her  absence.  Every  day 
the  old  man  grew  stronger,  and  little  by  little  his  sight 
•came  back.  He  could  see  the  glorious  purple  of  the 
moors,  Emily's  moors,  no  less  beloved  in  her  sorrowing 
womanhood  than  in  her  happy  hoyden  time  of  youth. 
He  could  see  his  children's  faces,  and  the  miserable 
change  in  Branwell's  features.  He  began  to  be  able  to 
read  a  little,  a  very  little  at  a  time,  and  by  November 
was  sufficiently  recovered  to  take  the  whole  duty  of  the 
three  Sunday  services  upon  himself. 

Not  long  after  this  time,  three  members  of  that  quiet 
household  were  still  further  cheered  by  learning  that 
'  Agnes  Grey  '  and  '  Wuthering  Heights  '  had  found 
acceptance  at  the  hands  of  a  publisher.  Acceptance  ; 
but  upon  impoverishing  terms.  Still,  for  so  much  they 
were  thankful.  To  write,  and  bury  unread  the  things 
one  has  written,  is  playing  music  upon  a  dumb  piano. 
Who  plays,  would  fain  be  heard. 





A  GREY  old  Parsonage  standing  among  graves,  remote 
from  the  world  on  its  wind-beaten  hill-top,  all  round 
the  neighbouring  summits  wild  with  moors ;  a  lonely 
place  among  half-dead  ash-trees  and  stunted  thorns, 
the  world  cut  off  on  one  side  by  the  still  ranks  of  the 
serried  dead,  and  distanced  on  the  other  by  mile-long 
stretches  of  heath :  such,  we  know,  was  Emily  Bronte's 

An  old,  blind,  disillusioned  father,  once  prone  to  an, 
extraordinary  violence  of  temper,  but  now  grown  quiet 
with  age,  showing  his  disappointment  with  life  by  a 
melancholy  cynicism  that  was  quite  sincere  ;  two  sisters,, 
both  beloved,  one,  fired  with  genius  and  quick  to  senti- 
ment, hiding  her  enthusiasm  under  the  cold  demeanour 
of  the  ex-governess,  unsuccessful,  and  unrecognised  ;  the 
other  gentler,  dearer,  fairer,  slowly  dying,  inch  by  inch, 
of  the  blighting  neighbourhood  of  vice.  One  brother, 
scarce  less  dear,  of  set  purpose  drinking  himself  to 
death  out  of  furious  thwarted  passion  for  a  mistress  that 
he  might  not  marry :  these  were  the  members  of  Emily 
Bronte's  household. 

Herself  we  know  :  inexperienced,  courageous,  passion- 
ate, and  full  of  pity.  Was  is  wonderful  that  she  summed 
up  life  in  one  bitter  line  ? — 

"  Conquered  good  and  conquering  ill." 


Her  own  circumstances  proved  the  axic .s  jn  eacll  case 
other  lives  she  had  but  little  knowledge.  W  experience, 
she  ask?  The  gentle  Ellen  who  seemed  c,r  resuit'. 
world,  and  yet  had  plentiful  troubles  of  her  own  ;v,  the 
curates  she  despised  for  their  narrow  priggishness  ?  *>ct 
people  in  the  village  of  whom  she  knew  nothing  save, 
when  sickness,  wrong,  or  death  summoned  her  to  their 
homes  to  give  help  and  protection  ?  Her  life  had  given 
only  one  view  of  the  world,  and  she  could  not  realise 
that  there  were  others  which  she  had  not  seen. 

"  I  am  bound  to  avow,"  says  Charlotte,  "  that  she  had 
scarcely  more  practical  knowledge  of  the  peasantry 
among  whom  she  lived  than  a  nun  has  of  the  country 
people  that  pass  her  convent  gates.  My  sister's  disposi- 
tion was  not  naturally  gregarious  ;  circumstances  favoured 
and  fostered  her  tendency  to  seclusion ;  except  to  go 
to  church,  or  to  take  a  walk  on  the  hills,  she  rarely 
crossed  the  threshold  of  home.  Though  her  feeling  for 
the  people  round  her  was  benevolent,  intercourse  with 
them  she  never  sought,  nor,  with  very  few  exceptions, 
ever  experienced ;  and  yet  she  knew  them,  knew  their 
ways,  their  language,  their  family  histories ;  she  could 
hear  of  them  with  interest  and  talk  of  them  with  detail, 
minute,  graphic,  and  accurate ;  but  with  them  she  rarely 
exchanged  a  word.  Hence  it  ensued  that  what  her 
mind  had  gathered  of  the  real  concerning  them  was  too 
exclusively  confined  to  those  tragic  and  terrible  traits  of 
which,  in  listening  to  the  secret  annals  of  every  rude 
vicinage,  the  memory  is  sometimes  compelled  to  receive 
the  impress.  Her  imagination,  which  was  a  spirit  more 
sombre  than  sunny,  more  powerful  than  sportive,  found 
in  such  traits  materials  whence  it  wrought  creations  like 
Heathcliff,  like  Earnshaw,  like  Catharine.  Having  formed 
these  beings  she  did  not  know  what  she  had  done.  If 

1 54  EMIL  Y  BRONT£. 

of  her   work,   when   read  in   manuscript, 
under   the  grinding  influence  of  natures  so 
and  implacable — of  spirits  so  lost  and  fallen  ; 
.as  complained  that  the  mere  hearing  of  certain 
.d  and  fearful  scenes  banished  sleep  by  night  and 
Disturbed  mental  peace  by  day,  Ellis  Bell  would  wonder 
what  was  meant  and  suspect  the  complainant  of  affecta- 
tion.    Had  she  but  lived,  her  mind  would  of  itself  have 
grown  like  a  strong  tree — loftier  and  straighter,  wider 
spreading — and  its  matured  fruits  would  have  attained 
<L  mellower  ripening  and   sunnier  bloom ;  but  on  that 
mind   time   and  experience   alone   could  work,   to   the 
influence  of  other  intellects  it  was  not  amenable.  "  * 

Yet  no  human  being  is  wholly  free,  none  wholly 
independent,  of  surroundings.  And  Emily  Bronte  least 
of  all  could  claim  such  immunity.  We  can  with  diffi- 
culty just  imagine  her  a  prosperous  heiress,  loving  and 
loved,  high-spirited  and  even  hoydenish ;  but  with  her 
cavalier  fantasy  informed  by  a  gracious  splendour  all 
her  own,  we  can  just  imagine  Emily  Bronte  as  Shirley 
Keeldar,  but  scarcely  Shirley  Keeldar  writing  '  Wuther- 
ing  Heights.'  Emily  Bronte  away  from  her  moors,  her 
loneliness,  her  poverty,  her  discipline,  her  companion- 
ship with  genius,  violence  and  degradation,  would  have 
taken  another  colour,  as  hydrangeas  grow  now  red,  now 
blue,  according  to  the  nature  of  the  soil.  It  was  not 
her  lack  of  knowledge  of  the  world  that  made  the  novel 
she  wrote  become  'Wuthering  Heights,'  not  her  inex- 
perience, but  rather  her  experience,  limited  and  perverse, 
indeed,  and  specialised  by  a  most  singular  temperament, 
yet  close  and  very  real.  Her  imagination  was  as  much 
inspired  by  the  circumstances  of  her  life,  as  was  Anne's 
when  she  wrote  the  '  Tenant  of  Wildfell  Hall/  or  Char- 
*  '  Memoir.'  Charlotte  Bronte. 


lotte's  in  her  masterpiece  '  Villette  ;'  but,  as  in  each  case 
the  imagination  was  of  a  different  quality,  experience, 
acting  upon  it,  produced  a  distinct  and  dissimilar  result ; 
a  result  obtained  no  less  by  the  contrariety  than  by  the 
harmony  of  circumstance.  For  our  surroundings  affect 
us  in  two  ways  ;  subtly  and  permanently,  tinging  us 
through  and  through  as  wine  tinges  water,  or,  by  some 
violent  neighbourhood  of  antipathetic  force,  sending  us  off 
at  a  tangent  as  far  as  possible  from  the  antagonistic 
presence  that  so  detestably  environs  us.  The.  fact  that 
Charlotte  Bronte  knew  chiefly  clergymen  is  largely  re- 
sponsible for  'Shirley/  that  satirical  eulogy  of  the 
Church  and  apotheosis  of  Sunday-school  teachers.  But 
Emily,  living  in  this  same  clerical  evangelistic  atmo- 
sphere, is  revolted,  forced  to  the  other  extreme ;  and, 
while  sheltering  her  true  opinions  from  herself  under 
the  all-embracing  term  "  Broad  Church,"  we  find  in  her 
writings  no  belief  so  strong  as  the  belief  in  the  present 
use  and  glory  of  life ;  no  love  so  great  as  her  love  for 
earth — earth  the  mother  and  grave ;  no  assertion  of 
immortality,  but  a  deep  certainty  of  rest.  There  is  no 
note  so  often  struck  in  all  her  work,  and  struck  with 
such  variety  of  emphasis,  as  this :  that  good  for  good- 
ness' sake  is  desirable,  evil  for  evil's  sake  detestable, 
and  that  for  the  just  and  the  unjust  alike  there  is  rest  in 
the  grave. 

This  quiet  clergyman's  daughter,  always  hearing  evil 
of  Dissenters,  has  therefore  from  pure  courage  and 
revolted  justice  become  a  dissenter  herself.  A  dissenter 
in  more  ways  than  one.  Never  was  a  nature  more 
sensitive  to  the  stupidities  and  narrowness  of  conven- 
tional opinion,  a  nature  more  likely  to  be  found  in  the 
ranks  of  the  opposition  ;  and  with  such  a  nature  indig- 
nation is  the  force  that  most  often  looses  the  gate  of 

158  EM1L  Y  BRONTE. 

speech.  The  impulse  to  reveal  wrongs  and  sufferings 
as  they  really  are,  is  overwhelmingly  strong  ;  although 
the  revelation  itself  be  imperfect.  What,  then,  would 
this  inexperienced  Yorkshire  parson's  danghter  reveal  ? 
The  unlikeness  of  life  to  the  authorised  pictures  of  life ; 
the  force  of  evil,  only  conquerable  by  the  slow-revolving 
process  of  nature  which  admits  not  the  eternal  duration 
of  the  perverse  ;  the  grim  and  fearful  lessons  of  heredity  ; 
the  sufficiency  of  the  finite  to  the  finite,  of  life  to  life, 
with  no  other  reward  than  the  conduct  of  life  fulfils 
to  him  that  lives  ;  the  all-penetrating  kinship  of  living 
things,  heather-sprig,  singing  lark,  confident  child,  relent- 
less tyrant ;  and,  not  least,  not  least  to  her  already  in  its 
shadow,  the  sure  and  universal  peace  of  death. 

A  strange  evangel  from  such  a  preacher  ;  but  a  faith 
evermore  emphasised  and  deeper  rooted  in  Emily's  mind 
by  her  incapacity  to  acquiesce  in  the  stiff,  pragmatic 
teaching,  the  narrow  prejudice,  of  the  Calvinists  of 
Haworth.  Yet  this  very  Calvinism  influenced  her 
ideas,  this  doctrine  she  so  passionately  rejected,  calling 
herself  a  disciple  of  the  tolerant  and  thoughtful  Frede- 
rick Maurice,  and  writing,  in  defiance  of  its  flames  and 
shriekings,  the  most  soothing  consolations  to  mortality 
that  I  remember  in  our  tongue. 

Nevertheless,  so  dual-natured  is  the  force  of  environ- 
ment, this  antagonistic  faith,  repelling  her  to  the  extreme 
rebound  of  belief,  did  not  send  her  out  from  it  before 
she  had  assimilated  some  of  its  sternest  tenets.  From 
this  doctrine  of  reward  and  punishment  she  learned  that 
for  every  unchecked  evil  tendency  there  is  a  fearful 
expiation  ;  though  she  placed  it  not  indeed  in  the  flames 
of  hell,  but  in  the  perverted  instincts  of  our  own  chil- 
dren. Terrible  theories  of  doomed  incurable  sin  and 
predestined  loss  warned  her  that  an  evil  stock  will  only 


beget  contamination :  the  children  of  the  mad  must  be 
liable  to  madness ;  the  children  of  the  depraved,  bent 
towards  depravity  ;  the  seed  of  the  poison-plant  springs 
up  to  blast  and  ruin,  only  to  be  overcome  by  uprooting 
and  sterilisation,  or  by  the  judicious  grafting,  the  patient 
training  of  many  years. 

Thus  prejudiced  and  evangelical  Haworth  had  prepared 
the  woman  who  rejected  its  Hebraic  dogma,  to  find 
out  for  herself  the  underlying  truths.  She  accepted 
them  in  their  full  significance.  It  has  been  laid  as  a 
blame  to  her  that  she  nowhere  shows  any  proper  ab- 
horrence of  the  fiendish  and  vindictive  HeathclifT.  She 
who  reveals  him  remembers  the  dubious  parentage  of 
that  forsaken  seaport  baby,  "  Lascar  or  Gipsy ;"  she 
remembers  the  Ishmaelitish  childhood,  too  much  loved 
and  hated,  of  the  little  interloper  whose  hand  was 
against  every  man's  hand.  Remembering  this,  she  sub- 
mits as  patiently  to  his  swarthy  soul  and  savage  instincts 
as  to  his  swarthy  skin  and  "  gibberish  that  nobody  could 
understand."  From  thistles  you  gather  no  grapes. 

No  use,  she  seems  to  be  saying,  in  waiting  for  the 
children  of  evil  parents  to  grow,  of  their  own  will  and 
unassisted,  straight  and  noble.  The  very  quality  of 
their  will  is  as  inherited  as  their  eyes  and  hair.  Heath- 
cliff  is  no  fiend  or  goblin  ;  the  untrained  doomed  child  01 
some  half-savage  sailor's  holiday,  violent  and  treacherous. 
And  how  far  shall  we  hold  the  sinner  responsible  for  a 
nature  which  is  itself  the  punishment  of  some  forefather's 
•crime.  Even  for  such  there  must  be  rest.  No  possi- 
bility in  the  just  and  reverent  mind  of  Emily  Bronte 
that  the  God  whom  she  believed  to  be  the  very  fount 
and  soul  of  life  could  condemn  to  everlasting  fire  the 
victims  of  morbid  tendencies  not  chosen  by  themselves. 
No  purgatory,  and  no  everlasting  flame,  is  needed  to 

160  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

purify  the  sins  of  Heathcliff;  his  grave  on  the  hillside 
will  grow  as  green  as  any  other  spot  of  grass,  moor- 
sheep  will  find  the  grass  as  sweet,  heath  and  harebells 
will  grow  of  the  same  colour  on  it  as  over  a  baby's  grave. 
For  life  and  sin  and  punishment  end  with  death  to 
the  dying  man  ;  he  slips  his  burden  then  on  to  other 
shoulders,  and  no  visions  mar  his  rest. 

"  I  wondered  how  any  one  could  ever  imagine  unquiet 
slumbers  for  the  sleepers  in  that  quiet  earth."  So  ends 
the  last  page  of  '  Wuthering  Heights/ 

So  much  for  the  theories  of  life  and  evil  that  the  clash 
of  circumstance  and  character  struck  out  from  Emily 
Bronte.  It  happened,  as  we  know,  that  she  had  occa- 
sion to  test  these  theories  ;  and  but  for  that  she  could 
never  have  written  '  Wuthering  Heights.'  Not  that  the 
story,  the  conception,  would  have  failed.  After  all  there 
is  nothing  more  appalling  in  the  violent  history  of  that 
upland  farm  than  many  a  midland  manor  set  thick  in 
elms,  many  a  wild  country-house  of  Wales  or  Cornwall 
could  unfold.  vStories  more  socially  painful  than  the 
mere  brute  violence  of  the  Earnshaws ;  of  madness  and 
treachery,  stories  of  girls  entrapped  unwillingly  into  a 
lunatic  marriage  that  the  estate  might  have  an  heir  ;. 
legends  of  fearful  violence,  of  outcast  children,  dis- 
honoured wives,  horrible  and  persistent  evil.  Who,  in 
the  secret  places  of  his  memory,  stores  not  up  such 
haunting  gossip  ?  And  Emily,  familiar  with  all  the  wild 
stories  of  Haworth  for  a  century  back,  and  nursed  on 
grisly  Irish  horrors,  tales  of  1798,  tales  of  oppression 
and  misery,  Emily,  with  all  this  eerie  lore  at  her  finger- 
ends,  would  have  the  less  difficulty  in  combining  and 
working  the  separate  motives  into  a  consistent  whole,, 
that  she  did  not  know  the  real  people  whose  histories 
she  knew  by  heart.  \  No  memon^of 


dominance  or  preference  for  an  individual  type,  caught 
angjfisarranged  her  theories,  her  _conceptjon  being  the 
completer  from  he^jgnorance^  This  much  her  strong 
reason  and  her  creative  power  enabled  her  to  effect. 
But  this  is  not  all. 

This  is  the  plot ;  but  to  make  a  character  speak,  act, 
rave,  love,  live,  die,  through  a  whole  lifetime  of  events, 
even  as  the  readers  feel  convinced  he  must  have  acted, 
must  have  lived  and  died,  this  demands  at  least  so  much 
experience  of  a  somewhat  similar  nature  as  may  serve 
for  a  base  to  one's  imagination,  a  reserve  of  certainty  and 
reassurance  on  which  to  draw  in  times  of  perplexity  and 
doubt.    Branwell,  who  sat  to  Anne  sorrily  enough  for  the 
portrait  of  Henry  Huntingdon,  served  his  sister  Emily,, 
not  indeed  as  a  model,  a  thing  to  copy,  but  as  a  chart  ofr 
proportions  by  which  to  measure,  and  to  which  to  refeas 
for  correct  investiture,  the  inspired  idea.     Mr.  Werner's 
Reid  (whose  great  knowledge  of  the  Bronte  history 
still  greater  kindness  in  admitting  me  to  his  advanJiering 
as  much  as  might  be,  I  cannot  sufficiently  acknow}  to  its 
—this  capable  critic  perceives  a  bond  fide  resertence  of 
between  the  character  of  Heathcliff  and  the  cha^ive   and 
Branwell  Bronte  as  he  appeared  to  his  sister  Ernes.     The 
much,  bearing  in  mind  the  verse  concerning  ti'_mad  with 
I  own  I  cannot  see.     Branwell  seems  to  me  ^ng   but   the 
akin  to  Heathcliff's   miserable  son  than  t(en  given  too 
But  that,  in  depicting  Heathcliff  s  outragfjion  who  prefer 
love  for  Catharine,  Emily  did  draw  upon  Janks  have  been 
of  her  brother's  suffering,  this  extract  f  ignorant  of  the 
lished  lecture  of  Mr.  Reid's  will  sufficieijnd  it  impossible 

"  It  was  in  the  enforced  companio.y  so  much  violence 

and   degraded   man   that    Emily   recontrary,  given  these 

many    of    the    impressions    which  y  inexperienced  girl 

*  « Emily  Bronte.'    T.  Wertth  the  absolute    and 

M   2 

*62  EMILY  BRONT£. 

conveyed  to  the  pages  of  her  book.  Has  it  not  been 
said  over  and  over  again  by  critics  of  every  kind  that 
'  Wuthering  Heights '  reads  like  the  dream  of  an  opium- 
eater  ?  And  here  we  find  that  during  the  whole  time  of 
the  writing  of  the  book  an  habitual  and  avowed  opium- 
eater  was  at  Emily's  elbow.  I  said  that  perhaps  the 
most  striking  part  of  *  Wuthering  Heights'  was  that 
which  deals  with  the  relations  of  Heathcliff  and  Catharine 
after  she  had  become  the  wife  of  another.  Whole  pages 
of  the  story  are  filled  with  the  ravings  and  ragings  of  the 
villain  against  the  man  whose  life  stands  between  him 
and  the  woman  he  loves.  Similar  ravings  are  to  be 
found  in  all  the  letters  of  Branwell  Bronte  written  at  this 
period  of  his  career ;  and  we  may  be  sure  that  similar 
^avings  were  always  on  his  lips  as,  moody  and  more 
s^\an  half  mad,  he  wandered  about  the  rooms  of  the 
*s  -rsonage  at  Haworth.  Nay,  I  have  found  some  strik- 
uployerbai  coincidences  between  BranwelPs  own  language 
elms,Dassages  in  'Wuthering  Heights.'  In  one  of  his 
could  etters  there  are  these  words  in  reference  to  the 
mere  b.of  his  passion  :  '  My  own  life  without  her  will  be 
treacherjhat  can  the  so-called  love  of  her  wretched  sickly 
lunatic  nfoe  to  her  compared  with  mine  ?  '  Now,  turn  to 
legends  Oig  Heights '  and  you  will  read  these  words : 
honoured  ws  would  comprehend  my  future — death  and 
the  secret  p^e  after  losing  her  would  be  hell.  Yet  I 
haunting  gossfancv  for  a  moment  that  she  valued  Edgar 
stories  of  Hav\*ment  more  than  mine.  If  he  loved  with 
grisly  Irish  hor  of  his  puny  being,  he  couldn't  love  in 
and  misery,  Em%uch  as  I  could  in  a  day.' " 
ends,  would  have  e  in  '  Wuthering  Heights '  Branwell 
working  the  sepan  was  a  page  of  the  book -in  which  his 
that  she  did  not  ki>rved,  as  to  an  artist's  temperament  all 
she  knew  by  heart.  serve,  for  the  rough  block  of  granite 


out  of  which  the  work  is  hewn,  and,  even  while  with 
difficulty  enduring  his  vices,  Emily  undoubtedly  learned 
from  them  those  darker  secrets  of  humanity  necessary  to 
her  tragic  incantation.  They  served  her,  those  dreaded, 
passionate  outbreaks  of  her  brother's,  even  as  the  moors 
she  loved,  the  fancy  she  courted,  served  her.  Strange 
divining  wand  of  genius,  that  conjures  gold  out  of  the 
miriest  earth  of  common  life  ;  strange  and  terrible  faculty 
laying  up  its  stores  and  half-mechanically  drawing  its 
own  profit  out  of  our  slightest  or  most  miserable  experi- 
ences, noting  the  gesture  with  which  the  mother  hears  of 
her  son's  ruin,  catching  the  faint  varying  shadow  that 
the  white  wind-shaken  window-blind  sends  over  the 
dead  face  by  which  we  watch,  drawing  its  life  from  a 
thousand  deaths,  humiliations,  losses,  with  a  hand  in  our 
sharpest  joys  and  bitterest  sorrows ;  this  faculty  was 
Emily  Bronte's,  and  drew  its  profit  from  her  brother's 

Here  ended  Branwell's  share  in  producing  '  Wuthering 
Heights.'  But  it  is  not  well  to  ignore  his  claim  to  its 
entire  authorship  ;  for  in  the  contemptuous  silence  of 
those  who  know  their  falsity,  such  slanders  live  and 
thrive  like  unclean  insects  under  fallen  stones.  The 
vain  boast  of  an  unprincipled  dreamer,  half-mad  with 
opium,  half-drunk  with  gin,  meaning  nothing  but  the 
desire  to  be  admired  at  any  cost,  has  been  given  too 
much  prominence  by  those  lovers  of  sensation  who  prefer 
any  startling  lie  to  an  old  truth.  Their  ranks  have  been 
increased  by  the  number  of  those  who,  ignorant  of  the 
true  circumstances  of  Emily's  life,  found  it  impossible 
that  an  inexperienced  girl  could  portray  so  much  violence 
and  such  morbid  passion.  On  the  contrary,  given  these 
circumstances,  none  but  a  personally  inexperienced  girl 
could  have  treated  the  subject  with  the  absolute  and 

M   2 


sexless  purity  which  we  find  in  '  Wuthering  Heights.' 
How  infecte,  commonplace,  and  ignominious  would  Bran- 
well,  relying  on  his  own  recollections,  have  made  the 
thwarted  passion  of  a  violent  adventurer  for  a  woman 
whose  sickly  husband  both  despise  !  That  purity  as  of 
polished  steel,  as  cold  and  harder  than  ice,  that  freedom 
in  dealing  with  love  and  hate,  as  audacious  as  an  infant's 
love  for  the  bright  flame  of  fire,  could  only  belong  to 
one  whose  intensity  of  genius  was  rivalled  by  the 
narrowness  of  her  experience — an  experience  limited  not 
only  by  circumstances,  but  by  a  nature  impervious  to 
any  fierier  sentiment  than  the  natural  love  of  home  and 
her  own  people,  beginning  before  remembrance  and  as 
unconscious  as  breathing. 

The  critic,  having  Emily's  poems  and  the  few  re- 
maining verses  and  letters  of  Branwell,  cannot  doubt 
the  incapacity  of  that  unnerved  and  garrulous  prodigal 
to  produce  a  work  of  art  so  sustained,  passionate,  and 
remote.  For  in  no  respect  does  the  terse,  fiery,  imagina- 
tive style  of  Emily  resemble  the  weak,  disconnected,  now 
vulgar,  now  pretty  mannerisms  of  Branwell.  There  is, 
indeed,  scant  evidence  that  the  writer  of  Emily's  poems 
could  produce  'Wuthering  Heights;'  but  there  is,  at 
any  rate,  the  impossibility  that  her  work  could  be  void 
of  fire,  concentration,  and  wild  fancy.  As  great  an  im- 
possibility as  that  vulgarity  and  tawdriness  should  not 
obtrude  their  ugly  heads  here  and  there  from  under 
Branwell's  finest  phrases.  And  since  there  is  no  single 
vulgar,  trite,  or  Micawber-like  effusion  throughout 
'  Wuthering  Heights ;'  and  since  HeathclifFs  passion  is 
never  once  treated  in  the  despicable  would-be  worldly 
fashion  in  which  Branwell  describes  his  own  sensations, 
and  since  at  the  time  that  *  Wuthering  Heights'  was 
written  he  was  manifestly,  and  by  his  own  confession, 


too  physically  prostrate  for  any  literary  effort,  we  may 
conclude  that  Branwell  did  not  write  the  book. 

On  the  other  side  we  have  not  only  the  literary  evi- 
dence of  the  similar  qualities  in  '  Wuthering  Heights ' 
and  in  the  poems  of  Ellis  Bell,  but  the  express  and 
reiterated  assurance  of  Charlotte  Bronte,  who  never 
even  dreamed,  it  would  seem,  that  it  could  be  supposed 
her  brother  wrote  the  book  ;  the  testimony  of  the  pub- 
lishers who  made  their  treaty  with  Ellis  Bell ;  of  the 
servant  Martha  who  saw  her  mistress  writing  it ;  and — 
most  convincing  of  all  to  those  who  have  appreciated 
the  character  of  Emily  Bronte — the  impossibility  that 
a  spirit  so  upright  and  so  careless  of  fame  should 
commit  a  miserable  fraud  to  obtain  it. 

Indeed,  so  baseless  is  this  despicable  rumour  that  to 
attack  it  seems  absurd,  only  sometimes  it  is  wise  to 
risk  an  absurdity.  Puny  insects,  left  too  long  unhurt, 
may  turn  out  dangerous  enemies  irretrievably  damaging 
the  fertile  vine  on  which  they  fastened  in  the  security  of 
their  minuteness. 

To  the  three  favouring  circumstances  of  Emily's 
masterpiece,  which  we  have  already  mentioned — the 
neighbourhood  of  her  home,  the  character  of  her  dis- 
position, the  quality  of  her  experience — a  fourth  must  be 
added,  inferior  in  degree,  and  yet  not  absolutely  un- 
important. This  is  her  acquaintance  with  German  lite- 
rature, and  especially  with  Hoffmann's  tales.  In  Emily 
Bronte's  day,  Romance  and  Germany  had  one  signifi- 
cance ;  it  is  true  that  in  London  and  in  prose  the  German 
influence  was  dying  out,  but  in  distant  Haworth,  and  in 
the  writings  of  such  poets  as  Emily  would  read,  in 
Scott,  in  Southey,  most  of  all  in  Coleridge,  with  whose 
poems  her  own  have  so  distinct  an  affinity,  it  is  still 
predominant.  Of  the  materialistic  influence  of  Italy, 


of  atheist  Shelley,  Byron  with  his  audacity  and  realism, 
sensuous  Keats,  she  would  have  little  experience  in  her 
remote  parsonage.  And,  had  she  known  them,  they 
would  probably  have  made  no  impression  on  a  nature 
only  susceptible  to  kindred  influences.  Thackeray,  her 
sister's  hero,  might  have  never  lived  for  all  the  trace  of 
him  we  find  in  Emily's  writings  ;  never  is  there  any 
single  allusion  in  her  work  to  the  most  eventful  period 
of  her  life,  that  sight  of  the  lusher  fields  and  taller 
elms  of  middle  England  ;  that  glimpse  of  hurrying  vast 
London  ;  that  night  on  the  river,  the  sun  slipping  behind 
the  masts,  doubly  large  through  the  mist  and  smoke  in 
which  the  houses,  bridges,  ships  are  all  spectral  and 
dim.  No  hint  of  this,  nor  of  the  sea,  nor  of  Belgium, 
with  its  quaint  foreign  life ;  nor  yet  of  that  French 
style  and  method  so  carefully  impressed  upon  her  by 
Monsieur  Heger,  and  which  so  decidedly  moulded  her 
elder  sister's  art.  But  in  the  midst  of  her  business  at 
Haworth  we  catch  a  glimpse  of  her  reading  her  German 
book  at  night,  as  she  sits  on  the  hearthrug  with  her 
arm  round  Keeper's  neck  ;  glancing  at  it  in  the  kitchen, 
where  she  is  making  bread,  with  the  volume  of  her 
choice  propped  up  before  her ;  and  by  the  style  of  the 
novel  jotted  down  in  the  rough,  almost  simultaneously 
with  her  reading,  we  know  that  to  her  the  study  of 
German  was  not — like  French  and  music — the  mere 
necessary  acquirement  of  a  governess,  but  an  influence 
that  entered  her  mind  and  helped  to  shape  the  fashion 
of  her  thoughts. 

So  much  preface  is  necessary  to  explain,  not  the 
genius  of  Emily  Bronte,  but  the  conditions  of  that 
genius — there  is  no  use  saying  more.  The  aim  of  my 
writing  has  been  missed  if  the  circumstances  of  her 
career  are  not  present  in  the  mind  of  my  reader.  It  is 


too  late  at  this  point  to  do  more  than  enumerate  them, 
and  briefly  point  to  their  significance.  Such  criticism, 
in  face  of  the  living  work,  is  all  too  much  like  glancing 
in  a  green  and  beautiful  country  at  a  map,  from  which 
one  may,  indeed,  ascertain  the  roads  that  lead  to  it  and 
away,  and  the  size  of  the  place  in  relation  to  surrounding 
districts,  but  which  can  give  no  recognisable  likeness  of 
the  scene  which  lies  all  round  us,  with  its  fresh  life 
forgotten  and  its  beauty  disregarded.  Therefore  let  us 
make  an  end  of  theory  and  turn  to  the  book  on  which 
our  heroine's  fame  is  stationed,  fronting  eternity.  It 
may  be  that  in  unravelling  its  story  and  noticing  the 
manner  in  which  its  facts  of  character  and  circumstance 
impressed  her  mind,  we  may,  for  a  moment,  be  admitted 
to  a  more  thorough  and  clearer  insight  into  its  working 
than  we  could  earn  by  the  completest  study  of  external 
evidence,  the  most  earnest  and  sympathising  criticism. 

168  EMIL  Y  BRONT&. 



ON  the  summit  of  Haworth  Hill,  beyond  the  street, 
stands  a  grey  stone  house,  which  is  shown  as  the  original 
of  '  Wuthering  Heights.'  A  few  scant  and  wind-baffled 
ash-trees  grow  in  front,  the  moors  rise  at  the  back 
stretching  away  for  miles.  It  is  a  house  of  some 
pretensions,  once  the  parsonage  of  Grimshaw,  that 
powerful  Wesleyan  preacher  who,  whip  in  hand,  used  to 
visit  the  "  Black  Bull "  on  Sunday  morning  and  lash  the 
merrymakers  into  chapel  to  listen  to  his  sermon.  Some- 
what fallen  from  its  former  pretensions,  it  is  a  farmhouse 
now,  with  much  such  an  oak-lined  and  stone-floored 
house-place  as  is  described  in  'Wuthering  Heights.' 
Over  the  door  there  is,  moreover,  a  piece  of  carving : 
H.  E.  1659,  a  close  enough  resemblance  to  "  Hareton 
Earnshaw,  1500" — but  the  "wilderness  of  crumbling 
griffins  and  shameless  little  boys"  are  nowhere  to  be 
found.  Neither  do  we  notice  "  the  excessive  slant  of  a 
few  stunted  firs  at  the  end  of  the  house  and  a  range  of 
gaunt  thorns  all  stretching  their  limbs  one  way  as  if 
craving  alms  of  the  sun,"  and,  to  my  thinking,  this  fine 
old  farm  of  Sowdens  is  far  too  near  the  mills  of  Haworth 
to  represent  the  God-forsaken,  lonely  house  of  Emily's 
fancy.  Having  seen  the  place,  as  in  duty  bound,  one 
returns  more  i,.an  ever  impressed  by  the  fact  that  while 
every  individual  and  every  site  in  Charlotte's  novels  can 


be  clearly  identified,  Emily's  imagination  and  her  power 
of  drawing  conclusions  are  alone  responsible  for  the 
character  of  her  creations.  This  is  not  saying  that  she 
had  no  data  to  go  upon.  Had  she  not  seen  Sowdens, 
and  many  more  such  houses,  she  would  never  have 
invented  '  Wuthering  Heights  ;'  the  story  and  passion 
of  Branwell  set  on  her  fancy  to  imagine  the  somewhat 
similar  story  and  passion  of  Heathcliff.  But  in  the 
process  of  her  work,  the  nature  of  her  creations  com- 
pletely overmastered  the  facts  and  memories  which  had 
induced  her  to  begin.  These  were  but  the  handful 
of  dust  which  she  took  to  make  her  man ;  and  the 
qualities  and  defects  of  her  masterpiece  are  both  largely 
accounted  for  when  we  remember  that  her  creation  of 
character  was  quite  unmodified  by  any  attempt  at 

Therefore  in  'Wuthering  Heights '  it  is  with  a  story,  a 
fancy  picture,  that  we  have  to  deal ;  in  drawing  and  pro- 
portion not  unnatural,  but  certainly  not  painted  after 
nature.  To  quote  her  sister's  beautiful  comments — 

"  '  Wuthering  Heights  '  was  hewn  in  a  wild  workshop, 
with  simple  tools,  out  of  homely  materials.  The  sta- 
tuary found  a  granite  block  on  a  solitary  moor ;  gazing 
thereon  he  saw  how  from  the  crag  might  be  elicited  a  head, 
savage,  swart,  sinister  ;  a  form  moulded  with  at  least  one 
element  of  grandeur — power.  He  wrought  with  a  rude 
chisel,  and  from  no  model  but  the  vision  of  his  medita- 
tions. With  time  and  labour  the  crag  took  human 
shape  ;  and  there  it  stands  colossal,  dark  and  frowning, 
half-statue,  half-rock  ;  in  the  former  sense,  terrible  and 
goblin-like  ;  in  the  latter,  almost  beautiful,  for  its  colour- 
ing is  of  mellow  grey,  and  moorland  moss  clothes  it ; 
and  heath,  with  its  blooming  bells  and  balmy  fragrance, 
grows  faithfully  close  to  the  giant's  foot." 

i;o  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

Of  the  rude  chisel  we  find  plentiful  traces  in  the  first 
few  chapters  of  the  book.  The  management  of  the  narra- 
tive is  singularly  clumsy,  introduced  by  a  Mr.  Lockwood 
— a  stranger  to  the  North,  an  imaginary  misanthropist, 
who  has  taken  a  grange  on  the  moor  to  be  out  of  the 
way  of  the  world — and  afterwards  continued  to  him  by 
his  housekeeper  to  amuse  the  long  leisures  of  a  winter 
illness.  But,  passing  over  this  initial  awkwardness  of 
conception,  we  find  a  manner  equal  to  the  matter  and 
somewhat  resent  Charlotte's  eloquent  comparison ;  for 
there  are  touches,  fine  and  delicate,  that  only  a  practised 
hand  may  dare  to  give,  and  there  is  feeling  in  the  book, 
not  only  "terrible  and  goblin-like,"  but  patient  and 
constant,  sprightly  and  tender,  consuming  and  passionate. 
We  find,  getting  over  the  inexperienced  beginning,  that 
the  style  of  the  work  is  noble  and  accomplished,  and 
that — far  from  being  a  half-hewn  and  casual  fancy,  a 
head  surmounting  a  trunk  of  stone — its  plan  is  thought 
out  with  scientific  exactness,  no  line  blurred,  no  clue 
forgotten,  the  work  of  an  intense  and  poetic  tempera- 
ment whose  vision  is  too  vivid  to  be  incongruous. 

The  first  four  chapters  of  '  Wuthering  Heights '  are 
merely  introductory.  They  relate  Mr.  Lockwood's  visit 
there,  his  surprise  at  the  rudeness  of  the  place  in  contrast 
with  the  foreign  air  and  look  of  breeding  that  distin- 
guished Mr.  Heathcliff  and  his  beautiful  daughter-in- 
law.  He  also  noticed  the  profound  moroseness  and  ill- 
temper  of  everybody  in  the  house.  Overtaken  by  a 
snowstorm,  he  was,  however,  constrained  to  sleep  there  and 
was  conducted  by  the  housekeeper  to  an  old  chamber,  long 
unused,  where  (since  at  first  he  could  not  sleep)  he  amused 
himself  by  looking  over  a  few  mildewed  books  piled  on 
one  corner  of  the  window-ledge.  They  and  the  ledge 
were  scrawled  all  over  with  writing,  Catharine  Earnshaw^, 


sometimes  varied  to  Catharine  Heathcliff,  and  again  to- 
Catharine  Linton.  Nothing  save  these  three  names  was 
written  on  the  ledge,  but  the  books  were  covered  in 
every  fly-leaf  and  margin  with  a  pen-and-ink  com- 
mentary, a  sort  of  diary,  as  it  proved,  scrawled  in  a 
childish  hand.  Mr.  Lockwood  spent  the  first  portion 
of  the  night  in  deciphering  this  faded  record  ;  a  string  of 
childish  mishaps  and  deficiencies  dated  a  quarter  of  a 
century  ago.  Evidently  this  Catharine  Earnshaw  must 
have  been  one  of  HeathclifFs  kin,  for  he  figured  in  the 
narrative  as  her  fellow-scapegrace,  and  the  favourite 
scapegoat  of  her  elder  brother's  wrath.  After  some 
time  Mr.  Lockwood  fell  asleep,  to  be  troubled  by  haras- 
sing dreams,  in  one  of  which  he  fancied  that  this  childish 
Catharine  Earnshaw,  or  rather  her  spirit,  was  knocking  and 
scratching  at  the  fir-scraped  window-pane,  begging  to 
be  let  in.  Overcome  with  the  intense  horror  of  night- 
mare, he  screamed  aloud  in  his  sleep.  Waking  suddenly 
up  he  found  to  his  confusion  that  his  yell  had  been  heard, 
for  Heathcliff  appeared,  exceedingly  angry  that  any  one 
had  been  allowed  to  sleep  in  the  oak-closeted  room. 

"If  the  little  fiend  had  got  in  at  the  window  she 
probably  would  have  strangled  me,"  I  returned.  .  .  . 
"  Catharine  Linton  or  Earnshaw,  or  however  she  was 
called — she  must  have  been  a  changeling,  wicked  little 
soul !  She  told  me  she  had  been  walking  the  earth 
these  twenty  years  ;  a  just  punishment  for  her  mortal 
transgressions,  I've  no  doubt. 

"  Scarcely  were  these  words  uttered  when  I  recollected 
the  association  of  HeathclirFs  with  Catharine's  name  in 
the  books  ....  I  blushed  at  my  inconsideration — but, 
without  showing  further  consciousness  of  the  offence,  I 
hastened  to  add,  '  The  truth  is,  sir,  I  passed  the  first 
part  of  the  night  in — .'  Here  I  stopped  afresh — I  was 


about  to  say  '  perusing  those  old  volumes/  then  it  would 
have  revealed  my  knowledge  of  their  written  as  well  as 
their  printed  contents  ;  so  I  went  on,  '  in  spelling  over 
the  name  scratched  on  that  window-ledge :  a  mono  - 
tonous  occupation  calculated  to  set  me  asleep,  like 
•counting,  or — .'  '  What  can  you  mean  by  talking  in  this 
way  to  me!'  thundered  Heathcliff  with  savage  vehe- 
mence. '  How — how  dare  you,  under  my  roof  ?  God  ! 
she's  mad  to  speak  so  ! '  And  he  struck  his  forehead 
with  rage. 

"  I  did  not  know  whether  to  resent  this  language  or 
pursue  my  explanation  ;  but  he  seemed  so  powerfully 
affected  that  I  took  pity  and  proceeded  with  my  dreams 
....  Heathcliff  gradually  fell  back  into  the  shelter  of 
the  bed,  as  I  spoke  ;  finally  sitting  down  almost  concealed 
behind  it.  I  guessed,  however,  by  his  irregular  and  in- 
tercepted breathing,  that  he  struggled  to  vanquish  an 
-excess  of  violent  emotion.  Not  liking  to  show  him  that 
I  had  heard  the  conflict,  I  continued  my  toilette  rather 
noisily  ....  and  soliloquised  on  the  length  of  the  night. 
4  Not  three  o'clock  yet !  I  could  have  taken  oath  it 
had  been  six.  Time  stagnates  here  :  we  must  surely 
have  retired  to  rest  at  eight ! ' 

"  '  Always  at  nine  in  winter,  and  rise  at  four,'  said  my 
host,  suppressing  a  groan  ;  and,  as  I  fancied,  by  the 
motion  of  his  arm's  shadow,  dashing  a  tear  from  his 
eyes.  *  Mr.  Lockwood,'  he  added,  '  you  may  go  into  my 
room  :  you'll  only  be  in  the  way,  coming  downstairs  so 
early  ....  Take  the  candle  and  go  where  you  please. 
I  shall  join  you  directly.  Keep  out  of  the  yard,  though, 
the  dogs  are  unchained ;  and  the  house — Juno  mounts 
sentinel  there,  and — nay,  you  can  only  ramble  about  the 
steps  and  passages.  But,  away  with  you  !  I'll  come  in 
two  minutes.' 


"  I  obeyed,  so  far  as  to  quit  the  chamber  ;  when, 
ignorant  where  the  narrow  lobbies  led,  I  stood  still,  and 
was  witness,  involuntarily,  to  a  piece  of  superstition  on 
the  part  of  my  landlord  which  belied  oddly  his  apparent 
sense.  He  got  on  to  the  bed,  and  wrenched  open  the 
lattice,  bursting,  as  he  pulled  at  it,  into  an  uncontrol- 
lable passion  of  tears.  '  Come  in  !  come  in  ! '  he  sobbed, 
'  Cathy,  do  come !  Oh,  my  heart's  darling !  hear  me 
this  time,  Catharine,  at  last ! '  The  spectre  showed  a 
spectre's  ordinary  caprice  :  it  gave  no  sign  of  being  ;  but 
the  snow  and  wind  whirled  wildly  through,  even  reaching 
my  station,  and  blowing  out  the  light. 

"  There  was  such  anguish  in  the  gush  of  grief  that 
accompanied  this  raving,  that  my  compassion  made  me 
overlook  its  folly,  and  I  drew  off,  half  angry  to  have 
listened  at  all,  and  vexed  at  having  related  my  ridiculous 
nightmare,  since  it  produced  that  agony ;  though  why 
was  beyond  my  comprehension." 

Mr.  Lockwood  got  no  clue  to  the  mystery  at  '  Wuther- 
ing  Heights ' ;  and  later  on  returned  to  Thrushcross 
Grange,  to  fall  ill  of  a  lingering  fever.  During  his  re- 
covery he  heard  the  history  of  his  landlord,  from  his 
housekeeper,  who  had  been  formerly  an  occupant  of 
'Wuthering  Heights,'  and  after  that,  for  many  years, 
the  chief  retainer  at  Thrushcross  Grange,  where  young 
Mrs.  HeathclirT  used  to  live  when  she  still  was  Catharine 

"  Do  you  know  anything  of  Mr.  Heathcliff 's  story  ? " 
said  Mr.  Lockwood  to  his  housekeeper,  Nelly  Dean. 

"  It's  a  cuckoo's,  sir,"  she  answered. 

It  is  at  this  point  that  the  history  of  '  Wuthering 
Heights '  commences,  that  violent  and  bitter  history  of 
the  "  little  dark  thing  harboured  by  a  good  man  to  his 
bane,"  carried  over  the  threshold,  as  Christabel  lifted 


•Geraldine,  out  of  pity  for  the  weakness  which,  having 
grown  strong,  shall  crush  the  hand  that  helped  it ;  carried 
over  the  threshold,  as  evil  spirits  are  carried,  powerless 
to  enter  of  themselves,  and  yet  no  evil  demon,  only  a 
human  soul  lost  and  blackened  by  tyranny,  injustice 
and  congenital  ruin.  The  story  of  '  Wuthering  Heights,' 
is  the  story  of  Heathcliff.  It  begins  with  the  sudden 
journey  of  the  old  squire,  Mr.  Earnshaw,  to  Liverpool 
one  summer  morning  at  the  beginning  of  harvest.  He 
had  asked  the  children  each  to  choose  a  present,  "  only 
let  it  be  little,  for  I  shall  walk  there  and  back,  sixty 
miles  each  way  : "  and  the  son  Hindley,  a  proud,  high- 
spirited  lad  of  fourteen,  had  chosen  a  fiddle ;  six-year- 
old  Cathy,  a  whip,  for  she  could  ride  any  horse  in  the 
stable ;  and  Nelly  Dean,  their  humble  playfellow  and 
runner  of  errands,  had  been  promised  a  pocketful  of 
apples  and  pears.  It  was  the  third  night  since  Mr.  Earn- 
shaw's  departure,  and  the  children,  sleepy  and  tired,  had 
begged  their  mother  to  let  them  sit  up  a  little  longer — 
yet  a  little  longer — to  welcome  their  father,  and  see  their 
new  presents.  At  last — just  about  eleven  o'clock — Mr. 
Earnshaw  came  back,  laughing  and  groaning  over  his 
fatigue ;  and  opening  his  greatcoat,  which  he  held 
bundled  up  in  his  arms,  he  cried  : 

" '  See  here,  wife  !  I  was  never  so  beaten  with  anything 
in  my  life  :  but  you  must  e'en  take  it  as  a  gift  of  God ; 
though  it's  as  dark  almost  as  if  it  came  from  the  devil." 

"We  crowded  round,  and  over  Miss  Cathy's  head  I 
had  a  peep  at  a  dirty,  ragged,  black-haired  child  ;  big 
enough  both  to  walk  and  talk  ;  indeed,  its  face  looked 
older  than  Catharine's  ;  yet,  when  it  was  set  on  its  feet, 
it  only  stared  round  and  repeated  over  and  over  again 
some  gibberish  that  nobody  could  understand.  I  was 
frightened,  and  Mrs.  Earnshaw  was  ready  to  fling  it  out 


of  doors :  she  did  fly  up,  asking  how  he  could  fashion  to 
bring  that  gipsy  brat  into  the  house  when  they  had 
their  own  bairns  to  feed  and  fend  for  ?  What  he  meant 
to  do  with  it,  and  whether  he  were  mad  ?  The  master 
tried  to  explain  the  matter ;  but  he  was  really  half  dead 
with  fatigue,  and  all  that  I  could  make  out,  amongst  her 
scolding,  was  a  tale  of  his  seeing  it  starving  and  house- 
less, and  as  good  as  dumb,  in  the  streets  of  Liverpool, 
where  he  picked  it  up  and  inquired  for  its  owner.  Not  a 
soul  knew  to  whom  it  belonged,  he  said  ;  and  his  money 
and  time  being  both  limited,  he  thought  it  better  to  take 
it  home  with  him  at  once,  than  run  into  vain  expenses 
there ;  because  he  was  determined  he  would  not  leave 
it  as  he  found  it." 

So  the  child  entered  '  Wuthering  Heights/  a  cause  of 
dissension  from  the  first.  Mrs.  Earnshaw  grumbled  her- 
self calm  ;  the  children  went  to  bed  crying,  for  the  fiddle 
had  been  broken  and  the  whip  lost  in  carrying  the  little 
stranger  for  so  many  miles.  But  Mr.  Earnshaw  was  deter- 
mined to  have  his  prottgt  respected  ;  he  cuffed  saucy  little 
Cathy  for  making  faces  at  the  new  comer,  and  turned 
Nelly  Dean  out  of  the  house  for  having  set  him  to  sleep 
on  the  stairs  because  the  children  would  not  have  him  in 
their  bed.  And  when  she  ventured  to  return  some  days 
afterwards,  she  found  the  child  adopted  into  the  family, 
and  called  by  the  name  of  a  son  who  had  died  in  child- 

Nevertheless,  he  had  no  enviable  position.  Cathy, 
indeed,  was  very  thick  with  him,  and  the  master  had 
taken  to  him  strangely,  believing  every  word  he  said, 
"  for  that  matter  he  said  precious  little,  and  generally  the 
truth,"  but  Mrs.  Earnshaw  disliked  the  little  interloper 
and  never  interfered  in  his  behalf  when  Hindley,  who 
hated  him,  thrashed  and  struck  the  sullen,  patient  child, 

i;6  E&IIL  Y  BRONTE. 

who  never  complained,  but  bore  all  his  bruises  in  silence. 
This  endurance  made  old  Earnshaw  furious  when  he  dis- 
covered the  persecutions  to  which  this  mere  baby  was 
subjected  ;  the  child  soon  discovered  it  to  be  a  most 
efficient  instrument  of  vengeance. 

"  I  remember  Mr.  Earnshaw  once  bought  a  couple  of 
colts  at  the  parish  fair,  and  gave  the  lads  each  one. 
Heathcliff  took  the  handsomest,  but  it  soon  rell  lame, 
and  when  he  discovered  it,  he  said  to  Hindley  : '  You  must 
exchange  horses  with  me,  I  don't  like  mine ;  and  if  you 
ion't  I  shall  tell  your  father  of  the  three  thrashings- 
you've  given  me  this  week,  and  show  him  my  arm  which 
is  black  to  the  shoulder.'  Hindley  put  out  his  tongue,, 
and  cuffed  him  over  the  ears.  'You'd  better  do  it  at 
once/  he  persisted,  escaping  to  the  porch  (they  were  in 
the  stable).  '  You'll  have  to ;  and  if  I  speak  of  these 
blows  you'll  get  them  back  with  interest'  '  Off,  dog ! r 
cried  Hindley,  threatening  him  with  an  iron  weight,  used 
for  weighing  potatoes  and  hay.  '  Throw  it/  he  replied, 
standing  still,  '  and  then  I'll  tell  how  you  boasted 
you  would  turn  me  out  of  doors  as  soon  as  he  died, 
and  see  whether  he  will  not  turn  you  out  directly. 
Hindley  threw  it,  hitting  him  on  the  breast,  and  down  he 
fell,  but  staggered  up  immediately,  breathless  and  white  ;, 
and  had  not  I  prevented  it,  he  would  have  gone  just  so 
to  the  master  and  got  full  revenge  by  letting  his  condi- 
tion plead  for  him,  intimating  who  had  caused  it.  '  Take 
my  colt,  gipsy,  then/  said  young  Earnshaw.  '  And  I  pray 
that  he  may  break  your  neck  ;  take  him  and  be  damned, 
you  beggarly  interloper !  and  wheedle  my  father  out  of 
all  he  has :  only  afterwards  show  him  what  you  are,  imp 
of  Satan.  And  take  that ;  I  hope  he'll  kick  out  your 
brains ! ' 

"Heatheliff.had  gone  to  loose  the  beast  and  shift  it  to 


his  own  stall  ;  he  was  passing  behind  it  when  Hindley 
finished  his  speech  by  knocking  him  under  its  feet,  and, 
without  stopping  to  examine  whether  his  hopes  were 
fulfilled,  ran  away  as  fast  as  he  could.  I  was  surprised 
to  witness  how  coolly  the  child  gathered  himself  up  and 
went  on  with  his  intention  ;  exchanging  saddles  and  all, 
and  then  sitting  down  on  a  bundle  of  hay  to  overcome 
the  qualm  which  the  violent  blow  occasioned,  before  he 
entered  the  house.  I  persuaded  him  easily  to  let  me 
lay  the  blame  of  his  bruises  on  the  horse  :  he  heeded 
little  what  tale  was  told  so  that  he  had  what  he  wanted. 
He  complained  so  seldom,  indeed,  of  such  things  as  these 
that  I  really  thought  him  not  vindictive  ;  I  was  deceived 
completely,  as  you  will  hear." 

So  the  division  grew.  This  malignant,  uncomplain- 
ing child,  with  foreign  skin  and  Eastern  soul,  could  only 
breed  discord  in  that  Yorkshire  home.  He  could  not 
understand  what  was  honourable  by  instinct  to  an  Eng- 
lish mind.  He  was  quick  to  take  an  advantage_Ioiig- 
suffering,  sly,  nursing  his  revenge  in  silence  like  a  _ 
vindictive  slave,  until  at  last  the  moment  of  retribution 
should  be  his  ;  sufficiently  truthful  and  brave  to  have_ 
grown  noble  in  another  atmosphere,  but  with  a  ready- 
bent  to  underhand  and  brooding  vengeance.  Insensible^ 
it  seemed,  to  gratitude.  .Proud  with  tf\ 

pride  of  an  Oriental  ;  cruel,  and  violently  passionate. 
phe  soft  and  tender  speck  there  was  in  this  dark  and 
sullen  heart  ;  it  was  an  exceedingly  great  and  forbearing 
love  for  the  sweet,  saucy^-naughtv  Catharine. 

But  this  one  affection  only  served  to  augment  the 
mischief  that  he  wrought.  He  who  had  estranged  son 
from  father,  husband  from  wife,  severed  brother  from 
sister  as  completely;  for  Hindley  hated  the  swarthy 
child  who  was  Cathy's  favourite  companion.  When 



Mrs.  Earnshaw  died,  two  years  after  HeathclifTs  advent, 
Hindley  had  learned  to  regard  his  father  as  an  oppressor 
rather  than  a  friend,  and  Heathcliff  as  an  intolerable 
usurper.  So,  from  the  very  beginning-,  he  bred  bad  feel- 
ing in  the  house. 

In  the  course  of  time  Mr.  Earnshaw  began  to  fail. 
His  strength  suddenly  left  him,  and  he  grew  half  childish, 
irritable,  and  extremely  jealous  of  his  authority.  He 
considered  any  slight  to  Heathcliff  as  a  slight  to  his 
own  discretion ;  so  that,  in  the  master's  presence,  the 
child  was  deferred  to  and  courted  from  respect  for  that 
master's  weakness,  while,  behind  his  back,  the  old  wrongs, 
the  old  hatred,  showed  themselves  unquenched.  And 
so  the  child  grew  up  bitter  and  distrustful.  Matters  got 
a  little  better  for  a  while,  when  the  untameable  Hindley 
was  sent  to  college  ;  yet  still  there  was  disturbance  and 
disquiet,  for  Mr.  Earnshaw  did  not  love  his  daughter 
Catharine,  and  his  heart  was  yet  further  embittered  by 
the  grumbling  and  discontent  of  old  Joseph  the  servant ; 
the  wearisomest  "self-righteous  Pharisee  that  ever  ran- 
sacked a  Bible  to  take  the  promises  to  himself  and  fling 
the  curses  to  his  neighbours."  But  Catharine,  though 
slighted  for  Heathcliff,  and  nearly  always  in  trouble  on 
his  account,  was  much  too  fond  of  him  to  be  jealous. 
"  The  greatest  punishment  we  could  invent  for  her  was 
to  keep  her  separate  from  Heathcliff.  ....  Certainly 
she  had  ways  with  her  such  as  I  never  saw  a  child  take 
up  before ;  and  she  put  all  of  us  past  our  patience  fifty 
times  and  oftener  in  a  day;  from  the  hour  she  came 
downstairs  till  the  hour  she  went  to  bed,  we  hadn't  a 
minute's  security  that  she  wouldn't  be  in  mischief.  Her 
spirits  were  always  at  high- watermark,  her  tongue 
always  going — singing,  laughing,  and  plaguing  every- 
body who  would  not  do  the  same.  A  wild,  wicked  slip 



she  was  ;  but  she  had  the  bonniest  eye,  the  sweetest 
smile,  and  the  lightest  foot  in  the  parish.  And  after  all, 
I  believe,  she  meant  no  harm ;  for,  when  once  she  made 
you  cry  in  good  earnest,  it  seldom  happened  that  she 
wouldn't  keep  your  company  and  oblige  you  to  be  quiet 
that  you  might  comfort  her.  In  play  she  liked  exceed- 
ingly to  act  the  little  mistress,  using  her  hands  freely 
and  commanding  her  companions." 

Suddenly  this  pretty,  mischievous  sprite  was  left  father- 
less ;  Mr.  Earnshaw  died  quietly,  sitting  in  his  chair  by 
the  fireside  one  October  evening.  Mr.  Hindley,  now  a 
young  man  of  twenty,  came  home  to  the  funeral,  to  the 
great  astonishment  of  the  household  bringing  a  wife  with 

A  rush  of  a  lass,  spare  and  bright-eyed,  with  a 
changing,  hectic  colour,  hysterical,  and  full  of  fancies, 
fickle  as  the  winds,  now  flighty  and  full  of  praise  and 
laughter,  now  peevish  and  languishing.  For  the  rest, 
the  very  idol  of  her  husband's  heart.  A  word  from  her, 
a  passing  phrase  of  dislike  for  Heathcliff,  was  enough  to 
revive  all  young  Earnshaw's  former  hatred  of  the  boy. 
Heathcliff  was  turned  out  of  their  society,  no  longer 
.allowed  to  share  Cathy's  lessons,  degraded  to  the  posi- 
tion of  an  ordinary  farm-servant.  At  first  Heathcliff 
did  not  mind.  Cathy  taught  him  what  she  learned,  and 
played  or  worked  with  him  in  the  fields.  Cathy  ran 
wild  with  him,  and  had  a  share  in  all  his  scrapes  ;  they 
both  bade  fair  to  grow  up  regular  little  savages,  while 
Hindley  Earnshaw  kissed  and  fondled  his  young  wife 
utterly  heedless  of  their  fate. 

An  adventure  suddenly  changed  the  course  of  their 
lives.  One  Sunday  evening  Cathy  and  Heathcliff 
ran  down  to  Thrushcross  Grange  to  peep  through  the 
windows  and  see  how  the  little  Lintons  spent  their 

N  2 

i8o  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

Sundays.  They  looked  in,  and  saw  Isabella  at  one  end  of 
the,  to  them,  splendid  drawing-room,  and  Edgar  at  the 
other,  both  in  floods  of  tears,  peevishly  quarrelling.  So 
elate  were  the  two  little  savages  from  Wuthering  Heights 
at  this  proof  of  their  neighbours'  inferiority,  that  they 
burst  into  peals  of  laughter.  The  little  Lintons  were 
terrified,  and,  to  frighten  them  still  more,  Cathy  and 
Heathcliff  made  a  variety  of  frightful  noises  ;  they  suc- 
ceeded in  terrifying  not  only  the  children  but  their  silly 
parents,  who  imagined  the  yells  to  come  from  a  gang  of 
burglars,  determined  on  robbing  the  house.  They  let 
the  dogs  loose,  in  this  belief,  and  the  bulldog  seized 
Cathy's  bare  little  ankle,  for  she  had  lost  her  shoes  in  the 
bog.  While  Heathcliff  was  trying  to  throttle  off  the  brute, 
the  man-servant  came  up,  and,  taking  both  the  children 
prisoner,  conveyed  them  into  the  lighted  hall.  There,  to 
the  humiliation  and  surprise  of  the  Lintons,  the  lame 
little  vagrant  was  discovered  to  be  Miss  Earnshaw,  and 
her  fellow-misdemeanant,  "that  strange  acquisition  my 
late  neighbour  made  in  his  journey  to  Liverpool  —  a 
little  Lascar,  or  an  American  or  Spanish  castaway." 

Cathy  stayed  five  weeks  at  Thrushcross  Grange,  by 
which  time  her  ankle  was  quite  well,  and  her  manners 
much  improved.  Young  Mrs.  Earnshaw  had  tried  her 
best,  during  this  visit,  to  endeavour  by  a  judicious  mix- 
ture of  fine  clothes  and  flattery  to  raise  the  standard  of 
Cathy's  self-respect.  She  went  home,  then,  a  beautiful 
and  finely-dressed  young  lady,  to  find  Heathcliff  in 
equal  measure  deteriorated ;  the  mere  farm-servant,  whose 
clothes  were  soiled  with  three  months'  service  in  mire 
and  dust,  with  unkempt  hair  and  grimy  face  and  hands. 

"  '  Heathcliff,  you  may  come  forward,'  cried  Mr.  Hind- 
ley,  enjoying  his  discomfiture,  and  gratified  to  see  what 
a  forbidding  young  blackguard  he  would  be  compelled  t^ 


present  himself.  'You  may  come  and  wish  Miss  Catha- 
rine welcome,  like  the  other  servants.'  Cathy,  catching 
a.  glimpse  of  her  friend  in  his  concealment,  flew  to  em- 
brace him,  she  bestowed  seven  or  eight  kisses  on  his 
cheek  within  the  second,  and  then  stopped,  and,  draw- 
ing back,  burst  into  a  laugh,  exclaiming:  'Why,  how 
very  black  and  cross  you  look !  and  how — how  funny 
and  grim !  But  that's  because  I'm  used  to  Edgar  and 
Isabella  Linton.' 

"'Well,  Heathcliff,  have  you  forgotten  me?  Shake 
hands,  Heathcliff/  said  Mr.  Earnshaw,  condescendingly, 
4  once  in  a  way,  that  is  permitted.' 

" '  I  shall  not,'  replied  the  boy,  finding  his  tongue  at 
last.  '  I  shall  not  stand  to  be  laughed  at.  I  shall  not 
bear  it.' " 

From  this  time  Catharine's  friendship  with  Heathcliff 
was  chequered  by  intermittent  jealousy  on  his  side  and 
intermittent  disgust  upon  hers ;  and  for  this  evil  turn, 
far  more  than  for  any  coarser  brutality,  Heathcliff  longed 
for  revenge  on  Hindley  Earnshaw.  Meanwhile  Edgar 
Linton,  greatly  smitten  with  the  beautiful  Catharine, 
went  from  time  to  time  to  visit  at  Wuthering  Heights. 
He  would  have  gone  far  oftener,  but  that  he  had  a 
terror  of  Hindley  Earnshaw's  reputation,  and  shrank 
from  encountering  him. 

For  this  fine  young  Oxford  gentleman,  this  proud 
young  husband,  was  sinking  into  worse  excesses  than 
any  of  his  wild  Earnshaw  ancestors.  A  defiant  sorrow 
had  driven  him  to  desperation.  In  the  summer  follow- 
ing Catharine's  visit  to  Thushcross  Grange,  his  only  son 
and  heir  had  been  born.  An  occasion  of  great  rejoicings, 
suddenly  dashed  by  the  discovery  that  his  wife,  his  idol, 
was  fast  sinking  in  consumption.  Hindley  refused  to 
believe  it,  and  his  wife  kept  her  flighty  spirits  till  the 


end ;  but  one  night,  while  leaning  on  his  shoulder,  a  fit 
of  coughing  took  her — a  very  slight  one.  She  put  her 
two  hands  about  his  neck,  her  face  changed,  and  she 
was  dead. 

Hindley  grew  desperate,  and  gave  himself  over  to  wild 
companions,  to  excesses  of  dissipation,  and  tyranny.. 
"His  treatment  of  Heathcliff  was  enough  to  make  a 
fiend  of  a  saint."  Heathcliff  bore  it  with  sullen  patience, 
as  he  had  borne  the  blows  and  kicks  of  his  childhood, 
turning  them  into  a  lever  for  extorting  advantages  ;  the 
aches  and  wants  of  his  body  were  redeemed  by  a  fierce 
joy  at  heart,  for  in  this  degradation  of  Hindley  Earnshaw 
he  recognised  the  instrument  of  his  own  revenge. 

Time  went  on,  ever  making  a  sharper  difference  be- 
tween this  gipsy  hind  and  his  beautiful  young  mistress  \ 
time  went  on,  leaving  the  two  fast  friends  enough,  but 
leaving  also  in  the  heart  of  Heathcliff  a  passionate 
rancour  against  the  man  who,  of  set  purpose,  had  made 
him  unworthy  of  Catharine's  hand,  and  of  the  other 
man  on  whom  it  was  to  be  bestowed. 

For  Edgar  Linton  was  infatuated  with  the  naughty, 
tricksy  young  beauty  of  Wuthering  Heights.  Her  violent 
temper  did  not  frighten  him,  although  his  own  character 
was  singularly  sweet,  placid  and  feeble ;  her  compromising 
friendship  with  such  a  mere  boor  as  young  Heathcliff  was 
only  a  trifling  annoyance  easily  to  be  excused.  And 
when  his  own  father  and  mother  died  of  a  fever  caught 
in  nursing  her  he  did  not  love  her  less  for  the  sorrow 
she  brought.  A  fever  she  had  wilfully  taken  in  despair,. 
and  a  sudden  sickness  of  life.  One  evening  pretty 
Cathy  came  into  the  kitchen  to  tell  Nelly  Dean  that  she 
had  engaged  herself  to  marry  Edgar  Linton.  Heathcliff, 
unseen,  was  seated  on  the  other  side  the  settle,  on  a  bench 
by  the  wall,  quite  hidden  from  those  at  the  fireside. 


Cathy  was  very  elated,  but  not  at  all  happy.  Edgar 
was  rich,  handsome,  young,  gentle,  passionately  in  love 
with  her ;  still  she  was  miserable.  Nelly  Dean,  who  was 
nursing  the  baby  Hareton  by  the  fire,  finally  grew 
out  of  patience  with  her  whimsical  discontent. 

" '  Your  brother  will  be  pleased/  "  she  said  ;  "  '  the  old 
lady  and  gentleman  will  not  object,  I  think  ;  you  will 
escape  from  a  disorderly,  comfortless  home  into  a 
wealthy,  respectable  one ;  and  you  love  Edgar,  and 
Edgar  loves  you.  All  seems  smooth  and  easy  ;  where 
is  the  obstacle  ? ' 

" '  Here  !  and  here  ! J  replied  Catharine,  striking  one 
hand  on  her  forehead  and  the  other  on  her  breast.  '  In 
whichever  place  the  soul  lives.  In  my  soul  and  in  my 
heart  I'm  convinced  I'm  wrong.' 

" '  That's  very  strange.     I  cannot  make  it  out.' 

" '  It's  my  secret.  But  if  you  will  not  mock  at  me,  I'll 
explain  it.  I  can't  do  it  distinctly  ;  but  I'll  give  you  a 
feeling  of  how  I  feel.' 

" '  She  seated  herself  by  me  again  ;  her  countenance 
grew  sadder  and  graver,  and  her  clasped  hands  trembled. 

" '  Nelly,  do  you  never  dream  queer  dreams  ?'  she  said, 
suddenly,  after  some  minutes'  reflection. 

" '  Yes,  now  and  then,'  I  answered. 

" '  And  so  do  I.  I've  dreamt  in  my  life  dreams  that 
have  stayed  with  me  ever  after,  and  changed  my  ideas  ; 
they've  gone  through  and  through  me  like  wine  through 
water,  and  altered  the  colour  of  my  mind.  And  this  is 
one :  I'm  going  to  tell  it,  but  take  care  not  to  smile  at 
any  part  of  it.' 

" '  Oh,  don't,  Miss  Catharine,'  I  cried.  '  We're  dismal 
enough  without  conjuring  up  ghosts  and  visions  to 
perplex  us  .  .  .  .' 

"  She  was  vexed,  but  she  did  not  proceed.    Apparently 

1 84  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

taking  up  another  subject,  she  recommenced  in  a  short 

" '  If  I  were  in  heaven,  Nelly,  I  should 'be  extremely 

" '  Because  you  are  not  fit  to  go  there/  I  answered  ; 
'  all  sinners  would  be  miserable  in  heaven.' 

"  '  But-  it  is  not  that.    I  dreamt  once  that  I  was  there.' 

" '  I  tell  you,  I  won't  hearken  to  your  dreams,  Miss 
Catharine.  I'll  go  to  bed,'  I  interrupted  again. 

"  She  laughed,  and  held  me  down,  for  I  made  a  motion 
to  leave  my  chair. 

" '  This  is  nothing/  cried  she  ;  '  I  was  only  going  to 
say  that  heaven  did  not  seem  to  be  any  home ;  and  1 
broke  my  heart  with  weeping  to  come  back  to  earth  ; 
and  the  angels  were  so  angry  that  they  flung  me  out  into 
the  middle  of  the  heath  on  the  top  of  Wuthering  Heights, 
where  I  woke  sobbing  for  joy.  That  will  do  to  explain 
my  secret  as  well  as  the  other.  I've  no  more  business 
to  marry  Edgar  Linton  than  I  have  to  be  in  heaven  ; 
and,  if  the  wicked  man  in  there  hadn't  brought  Heathcliff 
so  low,  I  shouldn't  have  thought  of  it.  It  would  de- 
grade me  to  marry  Heathcliff  now,  so  he  shall  never 
know  how  I  love  him  ;  and  that,  not  because  he's  hand- 
some, Nelly  but  because  he's  more  myself  than  I  am. 
Whatever  our  souls  are  made  of,  his  and  mine  are  the 
same  ;  and  Linton's  is  as  different  as  a  moonbeam  from 
lightning,  or  frost  from  fire.' 

"  Ere  this  speech  ended  I  became  sensible  of  Heath- 
cliffs  presence.  Having  noticed  a  slight  movement,  I 
turned  my  head,  and  saw  him  rise  from  the  bench  and 
steal  out  noiselessly.  He  had  listened  till  he  had  heard 
Catharine  say  that  it  would  degrade  her  to  marry  him, 
and  then  he  stayed  to  hear  no  further.  My  companion, 
sitting  on  the  ground,  was  orevented  by  the  back  of  the 


settle  from  remarking  his  presence  or  departure  ;  but  I 
started,  and  bade  her  hush. 

« '  Why  ? '  she  asked,  gazing  nervously  round. 

" '  Joseph  is  here,'  I  answered,  catching  opportunely 
the  roll  of  his  cart-wheels  up  the  road,  'and  Heathcliff 

will  be  coming  in  with  him Unfortunate  creature, 

as  soon  as  you  become  Mrs.  Linton  he  loses  friend  and 
love  and  all.  Have  you  considered  how  you'll  bear  the 
separation,  and  how  he'll  bear  to  be  quite  deserted  in 
the  world  ?  Because,  Miss  Catharine  .  .  .  .' 

"  '  He  quite  deserted  !  we  separated  ! '  she  exclaimed, 
with  an  accent  of  indignation.  '  Who  is  to  separate  us, 
pray !  They'll  meet  the  fate  of  Milo.  Not  as  long  as  I 
live,  Ellen ;  for  no  mortal  creature.  Every  Linton  on 
the  face  of  the  earth  might  melt  into  nothing,  before  I 
could  consent  to  forsake  Heathcliff  ....  My  great 
miseries  in  this  world  have  been  HeathclifTs  miseries, 
and  I  watched  and  felt  each  from  the  beginning.  My 
great  thought  in  living  is  himself.  If  all  else  perished, 
and  he  remained,  /  should  still  continue  to  be  ;  and  if  all,' 
else  remained  and  he  were  annihilated,  the  universe 
would  turn  to  a  mighty  stranger :  I  should  not  seem  a 
part  of  it.  My  love  for  Linton  is  like  the  foliage  in  the 
woods  :  time  will  change  it,  I'm  well  aware,  as  winter 
changes  the  trees.  My  love  for  Heathcliff  resembles  the 
eternal  rocks  beneath ;  a  source  of  little  visible  delight, 
but  necessary.  Nelly,  I  am  Heathcliff.  He's  always, 
always  in  my  mind :  not  as  a  pleasure,  any  more  than  I 
am  always  a  pleasure  to  myself,  but  as  my  own  being. 
So  don't  talk  of  our  separation  again  ;  it  is  impracticable  ; 
and ' 

"  She  paused,  and  hid  her  face  in  the  folds  of  my 
gown  ;  but  I  jerked  it  forcibly  away.  I  was  out  of 
patience  with  her  folly." 

1 86  EM1L  Y  BRONTE. 

Poor  Cathy  !  beautiful,  haughty,  and  capricious  ;  who 
should  guide  and  counsel  her  ?  her  besotted,  drunken 
brother  ?  the  servant  who  did  not  love  her  and  was  im- 
patient of  her  weathercock  veerings  ?  No.  And  Heath- 
cliff,  who,  brutalised  and  rude  as  he  was,  at  least  did  love 
and  understand  her  ?  Heathcliff,  who  had  walked  out  of 
the  house,  her  rejection  burning  in  his  ears,  not  to  enter  it 
till  he  was  fitted  to  exact  both  love  and  vengeance.  He 
did  not  come  back  that  night,  though  the  thunder  rattled 
and  the  rain  streamed  over  Wuthering  Heights  ;  though 
Cathy,  shawl-less  in  the  wind  and  wet,  stood  calling  him. 
through  the  violent  storms  that  drowned  and  baffled  her 

All  night  she  would  not  leave  the  hearth,  but  lay  oa 
the  settle  sobbing  and  moaning,  all  soaked  as  she  was, 
with  her  hands  on  her  face  and  her  face  to  the  wall.  A 
strange  augury  for  her  marriage,  these  first  dreams  of  her 
affianced  love — not  dreams,  indeed,  but  delirium  ;  for  the 
next  morning  she  was  burning  and  tossing  in  fever,  near 
to  death's  door  as  it  seeaned. 

But  she  won  through,  and  Edgar's  parents  carried  her 
home  to  nurse.  As  we  know,  they  took  the  infection 
and  died  within  a  few  days  of  each  other.  Nor  was  this 
the  only  ravage  that  the  fever  made.  Catharine,  always 
hasty  and  fitful  in  temper,  was  henceforth  subject  at  rare 
intervals  to  violent  and  furious  rages,  which  threatened 
her  life  and  reason  by  their  extremity.  The  doctor 
said  she  ought  not  to  be  crossed ;  she  ought  to  have  her 
own  way,  and  it  was  nothing  less  than  murder  in  her 
eyes  for  any  one  to  presume  to  stand  up  and  contradict 
her.  But  the  strained  temper,  the  spoiled,  authoritative 
ways,  the  saucy  caprices  of  his  bride,  were  no  blemishes 
in  Edgar  Linton's  eyes.  "  He  was  infatuated,  and  be- 
lieved himself  the  happiest  man  alive  on  the  day  he  led 


her  to  Gimmerton  Chapel  three  years  subsequent  to  his- 
father's  death." 

Despite  so  many  gloomy  auguries  the  marriage  was  a 
happy  one  at  first  Catharine  was  petted  and  humoured 
by  every  one,  with  Edgar  for  a  perpetual  worshipper  ;  his 
pretty,  weak-natured  sister  Isabella  as  an  admiring  com- 
panion ;  and  for  the  necessary  spectator  of  her  happiness,. 
Nelly  Dean,  who  had  been  induced  to  quit  her  nursling 
at  Wuthering  Heights. 

Suddenly  Heathclifif  returned,  not  the  old  Heathcliff,but 
a  far  more  dangerous  enemy,  a  tall,  athletic,  well-formed, 
man,  intelligent,  and  severe.  "A  half-civilised  ferocity 
lurked  yet  in  the  depressed  brows  and  eyes,  full  of  black 
fire,  but  it  was  subdued  ;  and  his  manner  was  even  digni- 
fied, though  too  stern  for  grace."  A  formidable  rival  for 
boyish  Edgar  Linton,  with  his  only  son's  petulance,  con- 
stitutional timidity,  and  weak  health.  Cathy,  though  she 
was  really  attached  to  her  husband,  gave  him  cruel  pain 
by  her  undisguised  and  childish  delight  at  HeathclifFs 
return  ;  he  had  a  presentiment  that  evil  would  come  of  the 
old  friendship  thus  revived,  and  would  willingly  have 
forbidden  HeathclifT  the  house ;  but  Edgar,  so  anxious 
lest  any  cross  be  given  to  his  wife,  with  a  double  reason 
then  for  tenderly  guarding  her  health,  could  not  inflict 
a  serious  sorrow  upon  her  with  only  a  baseless  jealousy 
for  its  excuse.  Thus,  Heathcliff  became  intimate  at 
Thrushcross  Grange,  the  second  house  to  which  he  was. 
made  welcome,  the  second  hearth  he  meant  to  ruin.  At 
this  time  he  was  lodging  at  Wuthering  Heights.  On  his 
return  he  had  first  intended,  he  told  Catharine,  "just  to- 
have  one  glimpse  of  your  face,  a  stare  of  surprise,  perhaps,, 
and  pretended  pleasure  ;  afterwards  settle  my  score  with 
Hindley  ;  and  then  prevent  the  law  by  doing  execution  oa 

1 88  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

Catharine's  welcome  changed  this  plan  ;  her  brother 
was  safe  from  HeathclifFs  violence  ;  but  not  from  his  hate. 
The  score  was  being  settled  in  a  different  fashion.  Hindley 
— who  was  eager  to  get  money  for  his  gambling  and  who 
had  drunk  his  wits  away — was  only  too  glad  to  take 
Heathcliff  as  lodger,  boon-companion,  and  fellow  card- 
player  at  once.  And  Heathcliff  was  content  to  wait  and 
take  his  revenge  sip  by  sip,  encouraging  his  old  oppressor 
in  drink  and  gaming,  watching  him  lose  acre  after  acre 
•of  his  land,  knowing  that  sooner  or  later  Earnshaw 
would  lose  everything,  and  he,  Heathcliff,  be  master  of 
Wuthering  Heights,  with  Hindley's  son  for  his  servant. 
Revenge  is  sweet.  Meanwhile,  Wuthering  Heights  was  a 
handy  lodging,  at  walking  distance  from  the  Grange. 

But  soon  his  visits  were  cut  off.  Isabella  Linton — a 
charming  girl  of  eighteen  with  an  espitgle  face  and  a 
thin  sweetness  of  disposition  that  could  easily  turn  sour — 
Isabella  Linton  fell  in  love  with  Heathcliff.  To  do  him 
justice  he  had  never  dreamed  of  marrying  her,  until  one 
day  Catharine,  in  a  fit  of  passion,  revealed  the  poor  girl's 
secret.  Heathcliff  pretended  not  to  believe  her,  but 
Isabel  was  her  brother's  heir,  and  to  marry  her,  inherit 
Edgar's  money,  and  ill-use  his  sister,  would,  indeed,  be 
.a  fair  revenge  on  Catharine's  husband. 

At  first  it  was  merely  as  an  artistically  pleasurable 
idea,  a  castle  in  the  air,  to  be  dreamed  about,  not  built, 
that  this  scheme  suggested  itself  to  Heathcliff.  But  one 
day,  when  he  had  been  detected  in  an  experimental 
courting  of  Isabel,  Edgar  Linton,  glad  of  an  excuse, 
turned  him  out  of  doors.  Then,  in  a  paroxysm  of 
hatred,  never-satisfied  revenge,  and  baffled  passion,  Heath- 
cliff  struck  with  the  poisoned  weapon  ready  to  his  hand. 
He  persuaded  Isabel  to  run  away  with  him — no  difficult 
task — and  they  eloped  together  one  night  to  be  married. 


Isabella — poor,  weak,  romantic,  sprightly  Isabel — was 
not  missed  at  first ;  for  very  terrible  trouble  had  fallen 
upon  the  Grange.  Catharine,  in  a  paroxysm  of  rage  at  the 
dismissal  of  Heathcliff,  quarrelled  violently  with  Edgar, 
and  shut  herself  up  in  her  own  room.  For  three  days 
and  nights  she  remained  there,  eating  nothing ;  Edgar, 
secluded  in  his  study,  expecting  every  mompnt  that  she 
would  come  down  and  ask  his  forgiveness  j^Nelly  Dean, 
who  alone  knew  of  her  determined  starving,  resolved  to 
say  nothing  about  it,  and  conquer,  once  for  all,  the  haughty 
and  passionate  spirit  which  possessed  her  beautiful  young 

So  three  days  went  by.  Catharine  still  refused  all  her 
food,  and  unsympathetic  Ellen  still  resolved  to  let  her 
starve,  if  she  chose,  without  a  remonstrance.  On  the  third 
day  Catharine  unbarred  her  door  and  asked  for  food  ;  and 
now  Ellen  Dean  was  too  frightened  to  exult.  Her  mistress 
was  wasted,  haggard,  wild,  as  if  by  months  of  illness  ; 
the  too-presumptuous  servant  remembered  the  doctor's 
warning,  and  dreaded  her  master's  anger,  when  he 
should  discover  Catharine's  real  condition. 

On  this  servant's  obstinate  cold-heartedness  rests  the 
crisis  of  '  Wuthering  Heights  ;'  had  Ellen  Dean,  at  the 
first,  attempted  to  console  the  violent,  childish  Catharine, 
had  she  acquainted  Edgar  of  the  real  weakness  under- 
neath her  pride,  Catharine  would  have  had  no  fatal  illness 
and  left  no  motherless  child ;  and  had  moping  Isabel, 
instead  of  being  left  to  weep  alone  about  the  park  and 
garden,  been  conducted  to  her  sister's  room  and  shown 
a  real  sickness  to  nurse,  a  real  misery  to  mend,  she  would 
not  have  gone  away  with  HeathclifF,  and  wedded  herself 
to  sorrow,  out  of  a  fanciful  love  in  idleness.  It  is  cha- 
racteristic of  Emily  Bronte's  genius  that  she  should 

;i 90  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

•choose   so   very  simple   and   homely  a   means 
production  of  most  terrible  results. 

A  fit  she  had  had  alone  and  untended  during  those 
.three  days  of  isolated  starvation  had  unsettled  Catha- 
rine's reason.  The  gradual  coming-on  of  her  delirium 
is  given  with  a  masterly  pathos  that  Webster  need  not 
have  made  more  strong,  nor  Fletcher  more  lovely  and 
•appealing : — 

"  A  minute  previously  she  was  violent ;  now,  supported 
on  one  arm  and  not  noticing  my  refusal  to  obey  her,  she 
seemed  to  find  childish  diversion  in  pulling  the  feathers 
from  the  rents  she  had  just  made  in  the  pillows  and 
ranging  them  on  the  sheet  according  to  their  different 
species  :  her  mind  had  strayed  to  other  associations. 

"'That's  a  turkey's,'  she  murmured  to  herself,  'and 
.this  is  a  wild  duck's,  and  this  is  a  pigeon's.  Ah,  they 
put  pigeons'  feathers  in  the  pillows — no  wonder  I  couldn't 
*die !  Let  me  take  care  to  throw  it  on  the  floor  when  I 
•lie  down.  And  here  is  a  moorcock's  ;  and  this — I  should 
know  it  among  a  thousand — it's  a  lapwing's.  Bonny 
bird ;  wheeling  over  our  heads  in  the  middle  of  the 
moor.  It  wanted  to  get  to  its  nest,  for  the  clouds  had 
touched  the  swells,  and  it  felt  rain  coming.  This  feather 
was  picked  up  from  the  heath,  the  bird  was  not  shot : 
we  saw  its  nest  in  the  winter,  full  of  little  skeletons. 
Heathcliff  set  a  trap  over  it  and  the  old  ones  dare  not 
come.  I  made  him  promise  he'd  never  shoot  a  lap- 
wing after  that,  and  he  didn't.  Yes,  here  are  more ! 
Did  he  shoot  my  lapwings,  Nelly  ?  Are  they  red,  any 
of  them  ?  Let  me  look.' 

" '  Give  over  with  that  baby-work  ! '  I  interrupted, 
-dragging  the  pillow  away,  and  turning  the  holes  towards 
.the  mattress,  for  she  was  removing  its  contents  by  hand- 


fuls.  '  Lie  down  and  shut  your  eyes :  you  re  wander- 
ing. There's  a  mess !  The  down  is  flying  about  like 

"  I  went  here  and  there  collecting  it. 

"  *  I  see  in  you,  Nelly,'  she  continued,  dreamily,  '  an 
aged  woman  :  you  have  grey  hair  and  bent  shoulders. 
This  bed  is  the  fairy  cave  under  Peniston  Crag,  and  you 
.are  gathering  elf-bolts  to  hurt  our  heifers ;  pretending 
while  I  am  near  that  they  are  only  locks  of  wool.  That's 
what  you'll  come  to  fifty  years  hence  :  I  know  you  are 
Jiot  so  now.  I'm  not  wandering  ;  you're  mistaken,  or 
else  I  should  believe  you  really  were  that  withered  hag, 
and  I  should  think  I  was  under  Peniston  Crag ;  and  I'm 
conscious  it's  night,  and  there  are  two  candles  on  the 
table  making  the  black  press  shine  like  jet.' 

" '  The  black  press  ?  Where  is  that  ? '  I  asked.  '  You 
are  talking  in  your  sleep.' 

"'It's  against  the  wall  as  it  always  is,'  she  replied. 

*  It  does  appear  odd.     I  see  a  face  in  it ! ' 

" '  There's  no  press  in  the  room  and  never  was,'  said  I, 
resuming  my  seat,  and  looping  up  the  curtain  that  I 
might  watch  her. 

"'Don't  you  see  that  face  ?'  she  inquired,  gazing 
•earnestly  at  the  mirror. 

"And  say  what  I  could  I  was  incapable  of  making 
her  comprehend  it  to  be  her  own  ;  so  I  rose  and  covered 
it  with  a  shawl. 

" '  It's   behind   there   still ! '   she   pursued,   anxiously, 

*  and  it  stirred.    Who  is  it  ?     I  hope  it  will  not  come  out 
when  you  are  gone.     Oh,  Nelly !  the  room  is  haunted ! 
I'm  afraid  of  being  alone.' 

"  I  took  her  hand  in  mine,  and  bid  her  be  composed, 
for  a  succession  of  shudders  convulsed  her  frame,  and 
she  would  keep  straining  her  gaze  towards  the  glass. 


" '  There's  nobody  here  ! '  I  insisted.  '  It  was  yourself 
Mrs.  Linton  :  you  knew  it  a  while  since.' 

"'Myself!'  she  gasped,  'and  the  clock  is  striking- 
twelve.  It's  true  then  !  that's  dreadful.' 

"  Her  fingers  clutched  the  clothes,  and  gathered  them 
over  her  eyes." 

This  scene  was  the  beginning  of  a  long  and  fearful  brain- 
fever,  from  which,  owing  to  her  husband's  devoted  and 
ceaseless  care,  Catharine  recovered  her  life,  but  barely 
her  reason.  That  hung  in  the  balance,  a  touch  might 
settle  it  on  the  side  of  health  or  of  madness.  Not  until 
the  beginning  of  this  fever  was  Isabella's  flight  discovered. 
Her  brother  was  too  concerned  with  his  wife's  illness  to 
feel  as  heart-broken  as  Heathcliff  hoped.  He  was  not 
violent  against  his  sister,  nor  even  angry ;  only,  with  the 
mild  steady  persistence  of  his  nature,  he  refused  to  hold 
any  communication  with  HeathclifFs  wife.  But  when, 
at  the  beginning  of  Catharine's  recovery,  Ellen  Dean 
received  a  letter  from  Isabella,  declaring  the  extreme 
wretchedness  of  her  life  at  Wuthering  Heights,  where 
Heathcliff  was  master  now,  Edgar  Linton  willingly 
accorded  the  servant  permission  to  go  and  see  his  sister. 

Arrived  at  Wuthering  Heights,  she  found  that  once 
plentiful  homestead  sorely  ruined  and  deteriorated  by 
years  of  thriftless  dissipation  ;  and  Isabella  Linton, 
already  metamorphosed  into  a  wan  and  listless  slattern, 
broken-spirited  and  pale.  As  a  pleasant  means  of 
entertaining  his  wife  and  her  old  servant,  Heathclift 
discoursed  on  his  love  for  Catharine  and  on  his  convic- 
tion that  she  could  not  really  care  for  Edgar  Linton. 

"  *  Catharine  has  a  heart  as  deep  as  I  have :  the  sea 
could  be  as  readily  contained  in  that  horse-trough,  as 
her  whole  affection  monopolised  by  him.  Tush  !  He  is 
scarcely  a  degree  dearer  to  her  than  her  dog  or  her 


horse.  It  is  not  in  him  to  be  loved  like  me.  How  can 
she  love  in  him  what  he  has  not  ?' " 

Nelly  Dean,  unhindered  by  the  sight  of  Isabella's 
misery,  or  by  the  memory  of  the  wrongs  her  master  al- 
ready suffered  from  this  estimable  neighbour,  was  finally 
cajoled  into  taking  a  letter  from  him  to  the  frail  half- 
dying  Catharine,  appointing  an  interview.  For  Heath- 
cliff  persisted  that  he  had  no  wish  to  make  a  disturbance, 
or  to  exasperate  Mr.  Linton,  but  merely  to  see  his  old 
playfellow  again,  to  learn  from  her  own  lips  how  she  was, 
and  whether  in  anything  he  could  serve  her. 

The  letter  was  taken  and  given ;  the  meeting  came 
about  one  Sunday  when  all  the  household  save  Ellen 
Dean  were  at  church.  Catharine,  pale,  apathetic,  but  more 
than  ever  beautiful  in  her  mazed  weakness  of  mind  and 
body  ;  Heathcliff,  violent  in  despair,  seeing  death  in  her 
face,  alternately  upbraiding  her  fiercely  for  causing  him 
so  much  misery,  and  tenderly  caressing  the  altered, 
dying  face.  Never  was  so  strange  a  love  scene.  It  is 
not  a  scene  to  quote,  not  noticeable  for  its  eloquent 
passages  or  the  beauty  of  casual  phrases,  but  for  its 
sustained  passion,  desperate,  pure,  terrible.  It  must  be 
read  in  its  sequence  and  its  entirety.  Nor  can  I  think  of 
any  parting  more  terrible,  more  penetrating  in  its 
anguish  than  this.  Romeo  and  Juliet  part ;  but  they 
have  known  each  other  but  for  a  week.  There  is  no 
scene  that  Heathcliff  can  look  upon  in  which  he  has  not 
played  with  Catharine  :  and,  now  that  she  is  dying,  he 
must  not  watch  with  her.  Troilus  and  Cressida  part ; 
but  Cressida  is  false,  and  Troilus  has  his  country  left 
him.  What  country  has  Heathcliff,  the  outcast,  nameless, 
adventurer  ?  Antonio  and  his  Duchess  ;  but  they  have 
belonged  to  each  other  and  been  happy ;  these  two  are 
eternally  separate.  Their  passion  is  only  heightened  by 



its  absolute  freedom  from  desire  ;  even  the  wicked  and 
desperate  Heathcliff  has  no  ignoble  love  for  Catharine  ; 
all  he  asks  is  that  she  live,  and  that  he  may  see  her ; 
that  she  may  be  happy  even  if  it  be  with  Linton.  "  I 
would  never  have  banished  him  from  her  society,  while 
she  desired  his,"  asserts  Heathcliff,  and  now  she  is  mad 
with  grief  and  dying.  The  consciousness  of  their 
strained  and  thwarted  natures,  moreover,  makes  us  the 
more  regretful  they  must  sever.  Had  he  survived, 
Romeo  would  have  been  happy  with  Rosalind,  after 
all ;  probably  Juliet  would  have  married  Paris.  But 
where  will  Heathcliff  love  again,  the  perverted,  morose, 
brutalised  Heathcliff,  whose  only  human  tenderness  has 
been  his  love  for  the  capricious,  lively,  beautiful  young 
creature,  now  dazed,  now  wretched,  now  dying  in  his 
arms  ?  The  very  remembrance  of  his  violence  and  cruelty 
renders  more  awful  the  spectacle  of  this  man,  sitting  with 
his  dying  love,  silent ;  their  faces  hid  against  each  other, 
and  washed  by  each  other's  tears. 

At  last  they  parted  :  Gatharine  unconscious,  half-dead. 
That  night  her  puny,  seven-months'  child  was  born  ;  that 
night  the  mother  died,  unutterably  changed  from  the 
bright  imperious  creature  who  entered  that  house  as  a 
kingdom,  not  yet  a  year  ago.  By  her  side,  in  the 
darkened  chamber,  her  husband  lay,  worn  out  with 
anguish.  Outside,  dashing  his  head  against  the  trees  in 
a  Berserker- wrath  with  fate,  Heathcliff  raged,  not  to  be 

" '  Her  senses  never  returned  :  she  recognised  nobody 
from  the  time  you  left  her/  I  said.  '  She  lies  with  a 
sweet  smile  upon  her  face,  and  her  latest  ideas  wandered 
back  to  pleasant  early  days.  Her  life  closed  in  a  gentle 
dream — may  she  wake  as  kindly  in  the  other  world ! ' 

"  '  May  she  wake  in  torment ! '  he  cried,  with  frightful 


vehemence,  stamping  his  foot  and  groaning  in  a  paroxysm 
of  ungovernable  passion.  '  Why,  she's  a  liar  to  the  end  ! 
Where  is  she  ?  Not  there — not  in  heaven — not  perished 
— where  ?  Oh  !  you  said  you  cared  nothing  for  my 
sufferings.  And  I  pray  one  prayer.  I  repeat  it  till  my 
tongue  stiffens.  Catharine  Earnshaw,  may  you  not  rest 
as  long  as  I  am  living.  You  said  I  killed  you — haunt 
me  then !  The  murdered  do  haunt  their  murderers,  I 
believe.  I  know  that  ghosts  have  wandered  on  earth. 
Be  with  me  always — take  any  form — drive  me  mad ! 
only  do  not  leave  me  in  this  abyss  where  I  cannot  find 
you  !  Oh,  God,  it  is  unutterable  !  I  cannot  live  without 
my  life.  I  cannot  live  without  my  soul.' 

"  He  dashed  his  head  against  the  knotted  trunk  ;  and, 
lifting  up  his  eyes,  howled,  not  like  a  man,  but  like  a 
savage  beast  being  goaded  to  death  with  knives  and 
spears.  I  observed  several  splashes  of  blood  about  the 
bark  of  the  tree,  and  his  hand  and  forehead  were  both 
stained ;  probably  the  scene  I  witnessed  was  the  repeti- 
tion of  others  acted  during  the  night.  It  hardly  moved 
my  compassion,  it  appalled  me." 

From  this  time  a  slow  insidious  madness  worked  in 
Heathcliff.  When  it  was  at  its  height  he  was  not  fierce,  but 
strangely  silent,  scarcely  breathing ;  hushed,  as  a  person 
who  draws  his  breath  to  hear  some  sound  only  just  not 
heard  as  yet,  as  a  man  who  strains  his  eyes  to  see  the 
speck  on  the  horizon  which  will  rise  the  next  moment, 
the  next  instant,  and  grow  into  the  ship  that  brings  his 
treasure  home.  "  When  I  sat  in  the  house  with  Hareton, 
it  seemed  that  on  going  out  I  should  meet  her ;  when 
I  walked  on  the  moors,  I  should  meet  her  coming  in. 
When  I  went  from  home,  I  hastened  to  return ;  she  must 
be  somewhere  at  the  Heights  I  was  certain ;  and  when 
I  slept  in  her  chamber — I  was  beaten  out  of  that.  I 

O  2 

196  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

couldn't  lie  there  ;  for  the  moment  I  closed  my  eyes, 
she  was  either  outside  the  window,  or  sliding  back  the 
panels,  or  entering  the  room,  or  even  resting  her  darling 
head  on  the  same  pillow,  as  she  did  when  a  child ;  and 
I  must  open  my  lids  to  see.  And  so  I  opened  and 
closed  them  a  hundred  times  a  night  to  be  always  dis- 
appointed. It  was  a  strange  way  of  killing,  not  by 
inches,  but  by  fractions  of  hairbreadths,  to  beguile  me 
with  the  spectre  of  a  hope  through  eighteen  years." 
This  mania  of  expectation  stretching  the  nerves  to  their 
uttermost  strain,  relaxed  sometimes ;  and  then  Heath- 
cliff  was  dangerous.  When  filled  with  the  thought  of 
Catharine,  the  world  was  indifferent  to  him ;  but  when 
this  possessing  memory  abated  ever  so  little,  he  remem- 
bered that  the  world  was  his  enemy,  had  cheated  him  of 
Catharine.  Then  avarice,  ambition,  revenge,  entered 
into  his  soul,  and  his  last  state  was  worse  than  his  first. 
Cruel,  with  the  insane  cruelty,  the  bloodmania  of  an 
Ezzelin,  he  never  was ;  his  cruelties  had  a  purpose, 
the  sufferings  of  the  victims  were  a  detail  not  an  end. 
Yet  something  of  that  despot's  character,  refined  into 
torturing  the  mind  and  not  the  flesh,  chaste,  cruel,  avari- 
cious of  power,  something  of  that  Southern  morbidness 
in  crime,  distinguishes  Heathcliff  from  the  villains  of 
modern  English  tragedies.  Placed  in  the  Italian  Renais- 
sance, with  Cyril  Tourneur  for  a  chronicler,  Heathcliff 
would  not  have  awakened  the  outburst  of  incredulous 
indignation  which  greeted  his  appearance  in  a  nineteenth 
century  romance. 

Soon  after  the  birth  of  the  younger  Catharine,  Isabella 
Heathcliff  escaped  from  her  husband  to  the  South  of 
England.  He  made  no  attempt  to  follow  her,  and  in 
her  new  home  she  gave  birth  to  a  son,  Linton— the  fruit 
of  timidity  and  hatred,  fear  and  revulsion — "from  the 


first  she  reported  him  to  'be  an  ailing,  peevish  creature." 
Meanwhile  little  Catharine  grew  up  the  very  light  of 
her  home,  an  exquisite  creature  with  her  father's  gentle, 
constant  nature  inspired  by  a  spark  of  her  mother's  fire 
and  lightened  by  a  gleam  of  her  wayward  caprice.  She 
had  the  Earnshaws'  handsome  dark  eyes  and  the  Lintons' 
fair  skin,  regular  features  and  curling  yellow  hair.  "  That 
capacity  for  intense  attachments  reminded  me  of  her 
mother.  Still  she  did  not  resemble  her  ;  her  anger  was 
never  furious ;  her  love  never  fierce  ;  it  was  deep  and 
tender."  Cathy  was  in  truth  a  charming  creature,  though 
less  passionate  and  strange  a  nature  than  Catharine 
Earnshaw,  not  made  to  be  loved  as  wildly  nor  as  deeply 

Edgar,  grown  a  complete  hermit,  devoted  himself  to 
his  child,  who  spent  a  life  as  happy  and  secluded  as  a 
princess  in  a  fairy  story,  seldom  venturing  outside  the 
limits  of  the  park  and  never  by  herself.  Edgar  had  never 
forgotten  his  sorrow  for  the  death  of  his  young  wife  ;  he 
loved  her  memory  with  steady  constancy.  If — and  I 
think  we  may — if  we  allow  that  every  author  has  some 
especial  quality  with  which,  in  more  or  less  degree,  he 
endows  all  his  children — if  we  grant  that  Shakespeare's 
people  are  all  meditative,  even  the  sprightly  Rosalind 
and  the  clownish  Dogberry — if  we  allow  that  all  our 
acquaintances  in  Dickens  are  a  trifle  self-conscious,  in 
George  Eliot  conscientious  to  such  an  extent  that  even 
Tito  Melema  feels  remorse  for  conduct  which,  granted  his 
period  and  his  character,  would  more  naturally  have 
given  him  satisfaction-  then  we  must  allow  that  Emily 
Bronte's  special  mark  is  constancy.  Passionate,  insane 
constancy  in  Heathcliff ;  perverse,  but  intense  in  the  elder 
Catharine ;  steady  and  holy  in  Edgar  Linton  ;  even  the 
hard  and  narrow  Ellen  Dean  ;  even  Joseph,  the  hypocritical 

198  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

Pharisee,  are  constant  until  death.  Wild  Hindley  Earn- 
shaw  drinks  himself  to  death  for  grief  at  losing  his  con- 
sumptive wife ;  Hareton  loves  to  the  end  the  man  who 
has  usurped  his  place,  degraded  him,  fed  him  on  blows 
and  exaction :  and  it  is  constancy  in  absence  that  em- 
bitters and  sickens  the  younger  Catharine.  Even  Isabella 
Heathcliff,  weak  as  she  is,  is  not  fickle.  Even  Lintort 
Heathcliff,  who,  of  all  the  characters  in  fiction,  may 
share  with  Barnes  Newcome  the  bad  eminence  of  supreme 
unlovableness,  even  he  loves  his  mother  and  Catharine, 
and,  in  his  selfish  way,  loves  them  to  the  end. 

The  years  passed,  nothing  happened,  save  that  Hindley 
Earnshaw  died,  and  Heathcliff— to  whom  every  yard  had 
been  mortgaged,  took  possession  of  the  place  ;  Hareton, 
who  should  have  been  the  first  gentleman  in  the  neigh- 
bourhood, "being  reduced  to  a  state  of  complete  depen- 
dence on  his  father's  inveterate  enemy,  lives  as  a  servant 
in  his  own  house,  deprived  of  the  advantages  of  wages 
quite  unable  to  right  himself  because  of  his  friendlessnes^ 
and  his  ignorance  that  he  has  been  wronged." 

The  eventless  years  went  by  till  Catharine  was  thirteen,, 
when  Mrs.  Heathcliff  died,  and  Edgar  went  to  the  South 
of  England  to  fetch  her  son.  Little  Cathy,  during  her 
father's  absence,  grew  impatient  of  her  confinement  to 
the  park  ;  there -was  >no  one  to  escort  her  over  the  moors, 
so  one  day  she*leapt  the  fence,  got  lost,  and  was  finally 
sheltered  at  Wuthering  Heights,  of  which  place  and  of 
all  its  inmates  she  had  been  kept  in  total  ignorance.  She 
promised  to  keep  the  visit  a  secret  from  her  father,  lest 
he  should  dismiss  Ellen  Dean.  She  was  very  indignant  at 
being  told  that  rudely-bred  Hareton  was  her  cousin  ;  and 
when  that  night  Linton — delicate,  pretty,  pettish  Lintort 
— arrived,  she  infinitely  preferred  his  cousinship. 

The  next  morning  she  found  Linton  gone,  his  father 


having  sent  for  him  to  Wuthering  Heights  ;  Edgar  Linton, 
however,  did  not  tell  his  daughter  that  her  cousin  was  so 
near,  he  would  not  for  worlds  she  should  cross  the 
threshold  of  that  terrible  house.  But  one  day,  Cathy 
and  Ellen  Dean  met  HeathclirT  on  the  moors,  and  he  half 
persuaded,  half  forced  them  to  -come  home  and  see  his 
son,  grown  a  most  despicable,  puling,  ailing  creature, 
half-violent,  half-terrified.  Cathy's  kind  little  heart  did 
not  see  the  faults,  she  only  saw  that  her  cousin  was  ill, 
unhappy,  in  need  of  her ;  she  was  easily  entrapped,  one 
winter,  when  her  father  and  Ellen  Dean  were  both  ill,  into 
a  secret  engagement  with  this  boy-cousin,  the  only  lad, 
save  uncouth  Hareton,  whom  she  had  ever  seen. 

Every  night,  when  her  day's  nursing  was  done,  she  rode 
over  to  Wuthering  Heights  to  pet  and  fondle  Linton. 
HeathclirT  did  all  he  could  to  favour  the  plan.  He  knew 
his  son  was  dying,  notwithstanding  that  every  care  was 
taken  to  preserve  the  heir  of  Wuthering  Heights  and 
Thrushcross  Grange.  It  is  true  that  Cathy  had  a  rival 
claim ;  to  marry  her  to  Linton  would  be  to  secure  the 
title,  get  a  wife  for  his  dying  son  to  preserve  the  line  of 
inheritance,  and  certainly  to  break  Edgar  Linton's  heart. 
HeathclifFs  love  of  revenge  and  love  of  power  combined 
to  make  the  scheme  a  thing  to  strive  for  and  desire. 

He  grew  desperate  as  the  boy  got  weaker  and 
weaker ;  it  was  but  too  likely  that  he  would  die  before  his 
dying  uncle,  and,  if  Edgar  Linton  survived,  Thrushcross 
Grange  was  lost  to  HeathclirT.  As  a  last  resource  he 
made  his  son  write  to  Edgar  Linton  and  beg  for  an 
interview  on  neutral  ground.  Edgar,  who,  ignorant  of 
Linton  HeathclirFs  true  character,  saw  no  reason  why 
Cathy  should  not  marry  her  cousin  if  they  loved  each 
other,  allowed  Ellen  Dean  to  take  her  little  mistress,  now 
seventeen  years  old,  on  to  the  moors  where  Linton 

200  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

Heathcliff  was  to  meet  them.  Cathy  was  loath  to  leave  her 
father  even  for  an  hour,  he  was  so  ill ;  but  she  had  been 
told  Linton  was  dying,  so  nerved  herself  to  go  once  more 
on  the  moors  :  they  found  Linton  in  a  strange  state,  terri- 
fied, exhausted,  despondent,  making  spasmodic  love  to 
Cathy  as  if  it  were  a  lesson  he  had  been  beaten  int 
learning.  She  wished  to  return,  but  the  boy  declared  him 
self,  and  looked,  too  ill  to  go  back  alone.  They  escorted 
him  home  to  the  Heights,  and  Heathcliff  persuaded  them 
to  enter,  saying  he  would  go  for  a  doctor  for  his  sick  lad. 
But,  once  they  were  in  the  house,  he  showed  his  hand. 
The  doors  were  bolted ;  the  servants  and  Hareton  away. 
Neither  tears  nor  prayers  would  induce  him  to  let  his 
victims  go  till  Catharine  was  Linton's  wife,  and  so,  he  told 
her,  till  her  father  had  died  in  solitude.  But  five  days 
after,  Catharine  Linton,  now  Catharine  Heathcliff,  con- 
trived an  escape  in  time  to  console  her  father's  dying 
hours  with  a  false  belief  in  her  happiness ;  a  noble  lie, 
for  Edgar  Linton  died  contented,  kissing  his  daughter's 
cheek,  ignorant  of  the  misery  in  store  for  her. 

The  next  day  Heathcliff  came  over  to  the  Grange  to 
recapture  his  prey,  but  now  Catharine  did  not  mind  ; 
her  father  dead,  she  received  all  the  affronts  and  stings  of 
fate  with  an  enduring  apathy ;  it  was  only  her  that  they 
injured.  A  few  days  after  Linton  died  in  the  night,  alone 
with  his  bride.  After  a  year's  absolute  misery  and  lone- 
liness, Catharine's  lot  was  a  little  lightened  by  Mr.  Heath- 
cliff's  preferring  Ellen  Dean  to  the  vacant  post  of  house- 
keeper at  Wuthering  Heights. 

For  the  all-absorbing  presence  of  Catharine  Earn- 
shaw  had  nearly  secluded  Heathcliff  from  enmity  with 
the  world  ;  he  was  seldom  violent  now.  He  became  yet 
more  and  more  disinclined  to  society,  sitting  alone, 
seldom  eating,  often  walking  about  the  whole  night. 


His  face  changed,  and  the  look  of  brooding  hate  gavel 
way  to   a  yet   more   alarming   expression — an  excited,! 
wild,  unnatural  appearance  of  joy.     He  complained  of\ 
no  illness,  yet  he  was  very  pale,  bloodless,  "  and  his  teeth  \ 
visible   now  and  then   in  a  kind  of  smile ;   his   frame  \ 
shivering,  not   as   one   shivers  with   chill   or  weakness,    | 
but  as  a  tight-stretched  cord  vibrates — a  strong  thrilling,    ' 
rather  than  trembling."     At  last  his  mysterious  absorp- 
tion, the  stress  of  his  expectation,  became  so  intense  that 
he  could  not  eat.     Animated  with  hunger,  he  would  sit    V 
down  to  his  meal,  then  suddenly  start,  as  if  he   saw 
something,  glance  at  the  door  or   the  window  and   go 
out.     Weary  and  pale,  he  could  not  sleep  ;  but  left  his 
bed  hurriedly,  and  went  out  to  pace  the  garden  till  break 
of  day.     " '  It  is  not  my  fault,'  he  replied,  '  that  I  cannot 
eat  or  rest.    I  assure  you  it  is  through  no  settled  design. 
I'll  do  both  as  soon  as  I  possibly  can.     But  you  might 
as  well  bid  a  man  struggling  in  the  water  rest  within 
arm's-length  of  the  shore.     I  must  reach  it  first  and  then 
I'll  rest.     As  to  repenting  of  my  injustices,  I've  done  no 
injustice  and  I  repent  of  nothing.     I'm  too  happy,  and 
yet   I'm  not  happy  enough.     My  soul's  bliss  kills  my 
body,  but  does  not  satisfy  itself.'  " 

Meanwhile  the  schemes  of  a  life,  the  deeply-laid 
purposes  of  his  revenge,  were  toppling  unheeded  all  round 
him,  like  a  house  of  cards.  His  son  was  dead.  Hareton 
Earnshaw,  the  real  heir  of  Wuthering  Heights,  and 
Catharine,  the  real  heir  of  Thmshcross  Grange,  had 
fallen  in  love  with  each  other.  [A  most  unguessed-at 
and  unlikely  finale  ;  yet  most  natural.  For  Catharine  was 
spoiled,  accomplished,  beautiful,  proud — yet  most  affec- 
tionate and  tender-hearted :  and  Hareton  rude,  surly, 
ignorant,  fierce  ;  yet  true  as  steeL  staunch,  and  with_a^ 
very  loving  faithful  heart,  constant^yen  to  the  man  who 


had,  of  set  purpose,  brutalised  him  and  kept  him  in  servi- 
tude. "  '  Hareton  is  damnably  fond  of  me  !  '  laughed 
Heathcliff.  'You'll  own  that  I've  out-matched  Hindlejr 
there.  If  the  dead  villain  could  rise  from  the  grave  to 
abuse  me  for  his  offspring's  wrongs,  I  should  have  the 
fun  of  seeing  the  said  offspring  fight  him  back  again, 
indignant  that  he  should  dare  to  rail  at  the  one  friend 
he  has  in  the  world.' 

"  '  He'll  never  be  able  to  emerge  from  his  bathos  of 
coarseness  and  ignorance,'  "  cried  Heathcliff  in  exultation  ;, 
but  love  can  do  as  much  as  hatred.  Heathcliff,  himself 
as  great  a  boor  at  twenty,  contrived  to  rub  off  his 
clownishness  in  order  to  revenge  himself  upon  his 
enemies;  Cahajine_^JnJtojQ!s_Jpj^e_  inspired  Hareton 

This  odd,  rough  love-story,  as  harshly- 

sweet  as  wortle-berries,  as  dry  and  stiff  in  its  beauty  as 
purple  heather-sprays,  is  the  most  purely  human,  the 
only  tender  interest  of  Wuthering  Heights.  It  is  the 
necessary  and  lawful  anti-climax  to  Heathcliffs  triumph, 
the  final  reassertion  of  JJie  pr£rejninence_of  right.  "  Con- 
quered good,  and  conquering  ill  "  is  often  pitiably  true  ;. 
but  not  an  everlasting  law,  only  a  too  frequent  accident. 
Perceiving  this,  Emily  Bronte  shows  the  final  discomfi- 
ture of  Heathcliff,  who,  kinless  and  kithless,  was  in  the  end 
compelled  to  see  the  property  he  haj  so  cruelly  amassed 
descend  to  his  hereditary  enemies.  Aiid_he_wajjDanled, 
not  so  much  by  Cathy  *s_and  Hareton's  love  affairs  as  by. 
this  sudden  reaction  from  violence,  this  slackening  of 
the  heartstrings,  which  left  him  nerveless  and  anaemic, 
a,  prey  to  encroaching  monomania.  He^a^_spejjt_his 
life  in  crushing  the  berries  for  his  revenge,  in  mixing 
that  dark  and  maddening  draught  ;  and  when  the  final 
moment  came,  when  he  lifted  it  to  his  lips,  desire  had  left 
him,  he  had  no  taste  for  it 


]"  I've  done  v$  jpjimtir^."  said  Heathcliff ;  and  though 
his  life  had  been  animated  by  hate,  revenge  and  passion, 
let  us  reflect  who  have  been  his  victims.  Not  the  old 
Squire  who  first  sheltered  him  ;  for  the  old  man  never 
lived  to  know  his  favourite's  baseness,  and  only  derived 
comfort  from  his  presence.  Catharine  Earnshaw  suffered, 
not  from  the  character  of  her  lover,  but  because  she  mar- 
ried a  man  she  merely  liked,  with  her  eyes  open  to  the 
fact  that  she  was  thereby  wronging  the  man  she  loved, 
"  You  deserve  this,"  said  Heathcliff,  when  she  was  dying., 
"  You  have  killed  yourself.  Because  misery  and  degra- 
dation and  death,  and  nothing  that  God  or  Satan  could 
inflict  would  ever  have  parted  us :  you,  of  your  own  will, 
did  it."  Not  the  morality  of  May  fair,  but  one  whose 
lessons,  stern  and  grim  enough,  must  ever  be  sorrowfully 
patent  to  such  erring  and  passionate  spirits.  The  third  of 
Heathcliff 's  victims  then,  or  rather  the  first,  was  Hindley 
Earnshaw.  But  if  Hindley  had  not  already  been  a 
gamester  and  a  drunkard,  a  violent  and  soulless  man, 
Heathcliff  could  have  gained  no  power  over  him.  Hindley 
welcomed  Heathcliff,  as  Faustus  the  Devil,  because  he 
could  gratify  his  evil  desires ;  because,  in  his  presence, 
there  was  no  need  to  remember  shame,  nor  high  purposes, 
nor  forsaken  goodness  ;  and  when  the  end  comes,  and  he 
shall  forfeit  his  soul,  let  him  remember  that  there  were 
two  at  that  bargain.7 

Isabella  Lintoirwas  the  most  pitiable -sufferer.  Victim 
we  can  scarcely  call  her,  who  required  no  deception,  but 
courted  her  doom.  And  after  all,  a  marriage  chiefly 
desired  in  order  to  humiliate  a  sister-in-law  and  show 
the  bride  to  be  a  person  of  importance,  was  not  intoler- 
ably requited  by  three  months  of  wretched  misery  ;  after 
so  much  she  is  suffered  to  escape.  From  Edgar  Linton, 
as  we  have  seen,  Heathcliff's  blows  fell  aside  unharming, 

204  EMIL  Y  BRONT&. 

as  the  executioner's  strokes  from  a  legendary  martyr. 
He  never  learnt  how  secondary  a  place  he  held  in 
his  wife's  heart,  he  never  knew  the  misery  of  his 
only  daughter — misery  soon  to  be  turned  into  joy. 
He  lived  and  died,  patient,  happy,  trustful,  unvisited  by 
the  violence  and  fury  that  had  their  centre  so  near  his 

{The  younger  Catharine  and  Hareton  suffered  but  a 
temporary  ill ;  the  misery  they  endured  together  taught 
them  to  love  ;  the  tyrant's  rod  had  blossomed  into  roses. 
And  he,  lonely  and  palsied  at  heart,  eating  out  his 
soul  in  bitter  solitude,  he  saw  his  plans  of  vengeance 
all  frustrated,  so  much  elaboration  so  simply  counter- 
acted ;  it  was  he  that  suffers^ 

He  suffered  now  :  and  Catharine  Earnshaw  who  helped 
him  to  ruin  by  her  desertion,  and  Hindley  who  perverted 
him  by  early  oppression,  they  suffered  at  his  hands. 
But  not  the  sinless,  the  constant,  the  noble  ;  misery,  in 
the  end,  shifts  its  dull  mists  before  the  light  of  such  clear 
spirits  :  TO,  ^pda'avri  irdOeiv. 

" ( It  is  a  poor  conclusion,  is  it  not  ? '  said  Heathcliff, 
*  an  absurd  termination  to  my  violent  exertions.  I  get 
levers  and  mattocks  to  demolish  the  two  houses,  and 
train  myself  to  be  capable  of  working  like  Hercules,  and 
when  everything  is  ready  and  in  my  power,  I  find  the 

will  to  lift  a  slate  off  either  roof  has  vanished.' 


"  Five  minutes  ago  Hareton  seemed  to  be  a  personifica- 
tion of  my  youth,  not  a  human  being :  I  felt  to  him  in 
such  a  variety  of  ways  that  it  would  have  been  impos- 
sible to  have  accosted  him  rationally.  In  the  first  place, 
his  startling  likeness  to  Catharine  connected  him  fearfully 
with  her.  That,  however,  which  you  may  suppose  the 
most  potent  to  arrest  my  imagination  is  in  reality  the 


least :  for  what  is  not  connected  with  her  to  me  ?  and 
what  does  not  recall  her  ?  I  cannot  look  down  to  the 
floor  but  her  features  are  shaped  in  the  flags !  In  every 
cloud,  in  every  tree — filling  the  air  by  night  and  caught 
by  glimpses  in  every  object  by  day — I  am  surrounded 
by  her  image.  The  most  ordinary  faces  of  men  and 
women — my  own  features — mock  me  with  a  resemblance. 
The  entire  world  is  a  dreadful  collection  of  memoranda 
that  she  did  exist,  and  that  I  have  lost  her!  Well, 
Hareton's  aspect  was  the  ghost  of  my  immortal  love  ; 
of  my  wild  endeavours  to  hold  my  right ;  my  degrada- 
tion, my  pride,  my  happiness,  and  my  anguish 

"  But  it  is  frenzy  to  repeat  these  thoughts  to  you : 
only  it  will  let  you  know  why,  with  a  reluctance  to  be 
always  alone,  his  society  is  no  benefit ;  rather  an  aggra- 
vation of  the  constant  torment  I  suffer  ;  and  it  partly 
contributes  to  render  me  regardless  how  he  and  his> 
cousin  go  on  together.  I  can  give  them  no  attention 
any  more." 

[Sweet,  forward  Catharine  and  coy,  passionate  Hareton 
got  on  very  prettily  together.  I  can  recall  no  more  touch- 
ing and  lifelike  scene  than  that  first  love-making  of  theirs, 
one  rainy  afternoon,  in  the  kitchen  where  Nelly  Dean  is 
ironing  the  linen.  Hareton,  sulky  and  miserable,  sitting 
by  the  fire,  hurt  by  a  gunshot  wound,  but  yet  more  by 
the  manifold  rebuffs  of  pretty  Cathy.  She,  with  all  her 
sauciness,  limp  in  the  dull,  wet  weather,  coaxing  him  into 
good  temper  with  the  sweetest  advancing  graces.  It  is 
strange  that  in  speaking  of  'Wuthering  Heights'  this 
beautiful  episode  should  be  so  universally  forgotten, 
and  only  the  violence  and  passion  of  more  terrible 
passages  associated  with  Emily  Bronte's  name.  Yet, 
out  of  the  strong  cometh  forth  the  sweet ;  and  the  best 
honey  from  the  dry  heather-bells;"V 

2o6  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

Meanwhile,  Heathcliff  let  them  go  on,  frightening 
them  more  by  his  strange  mood  of  abstraction  than  by 
his  accustomed  ferocity. 

He  could  give  them  no  attention  any  more.  For  four 
•days  he  could  neither  eat  nor  rest,  till  his  cheeks  grew 
hollow  and  his  eyes  bloodshot,  like  a  person  starving 
with  hunger,  and  growing  blind  with  loss  of  sleep. 

At  last  one  early  morning,  when  the  rain  was  streaming 
in  at  HeathclifFs  flapping  lattice,  Nelly  Dean,  like  a 
good  housewife,  went  in  to  shut  it  to.  The  master  must 
be  up  or  out,  she  said.  But  pushing  back  the  panels  ot 
the  inclosed  bed,  she  found  him  there,  laid  on  his  back, 
his  open  eyes  keen  and  fierce  ;  quite  still,  though  his  face 
and  throat  were  washed  with  rain ;  quite  still,  with  a 
frightful,  lifelike  gaze  of  exultation  under  his  brows,  with 
parted  lips  and  sharp  white  teeth  that  sneered — quite 
still  and  harmless  now  ;  dead  and  stark. 

Dead,  before  any  vengeance  had  overtaken  him  other 
than  the^slow,  retributive  sufferings  of  his  own  breast ; 
dead,  slain  by  too  much  hope,  and  an  unnatural  joy. 
Never  before  had  any  villain  so  strange  an  end ;  never 
before  had  any  sufferer  so  protracted  and  sinister  a 
torment,  "  beguiled  with  the  spectre  of  a  hope  through 
eighteen  years." 

No  more  public  nor  authoritative  punishment.  Hareton 
passionately  mourned  his  lost  tyrant,  weeping  in  bitter 
earnest,  and  kissing  the  sarcastic,  savage  face  that  every 
one  else  shrunk  from  contemplating.  And  HeathclifFs 
memory  was  sacred,  having  in  the  youth  he  ruined  a  most 
valiant  defender.  Even  Catharine  might  never  bemoan 
his  wickednesses  to  her  husband. 

No  execrations  in  this  world  or  the  next ;  a  great 
quiet  envelops  him.  His  violence  was  not  strong  enough 
to  reach  that  final  peace  and  mar  its  completeness.  His 


grave  is  next  to  Catharine's,  and  near  to  Edgar  Linton's  ; 
over  them  all  the  wild  bilberry  springs,  and  the  peat- 
moss and  heather.  They  do  not  reck  of  the  passion,  the 
capricious  sweetness,  the  steady  goodness  that  lie  under- 
neath. It  is  all  one  to  them  and  to  the  larks  singing 

~^ "  I  lingered  round  the  graves  under  that  benign  sky  ; 
watched  the  moths  fluttering  among  the  heath  and  hare- 
bells, listened  to  the  soft  wind  breathing  through  the 
grass ;  and  wondered  how  any  one  could  ever  imagine 
unquiet  slumbers  for  the  sleepers  in  that  quiet  earth." 

So  ends  the  story  of  Wuthering  Heights. 

The  world  is  now_agreed  to  accept  that  story  as  a 
great  and  tragic  study  of  passion  and  sorrow,  a  wild 
picture  of  storm  and  moorland,  of  outraged  goodness  and 
ingratitude.  The  world  which  has  crowned  '  King  Lear ' 
<  with  immortality,  keeps  a  lesser  wreath  for  '  Wuthering 
Heights.'  But  in  1848,  the  peals  of  triumph  which 
acclaimed  the  success  of  'Jane  Eyre'  had  no  echo  for 
the  work  of  Ellis  Bell.  That  strange  genius,  brooding 
and  foreboding,  intense  and  narrow,  was  passed  over,  dis- 
regarded. One  author,  indeed,  in  one  review,  Sydney 
Dobell,  in  the  Palladium  spoke  nobly  and  clearly  of 
the  energy  and  genius  of  this  book ;  but  when  that 
-clarion  augury  of  fame  at  last  was  sounded,  Emily  did 
not  hear.  Two  years  before  they  had  laid  her  in  the 

No  praise  for  Ellis  Bell.  It  is  strange  to  think  that  of 
Charlotte's  two  sisters  it  was  Anne  who  had  the  one 
short  draught  of  exhilarating  fame.  When  the  '  Tenant 
-of  Wildfell  Hall '  was  in  proof,  Ellis's  and  Acton's  pub- 
lisher sold  it  to  an  American  firm  as  the  last  and  finest 
production  of  the  author  of  '  Jane  Eyre '  and  '  Wuther- 
ing Heights.'  Strange,  that  even  a  publisher  could  so 

2o8  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

blunder,  even  for  his  own  interest.  However,  this  mis- 
take caused  sufficient  confusion  at  Cornhill  to  make  it 
necessary  that  the  famous  Charlotte,  accompanied  by 
Anne,  in  her  quality  of  secondary  and  mistakable  genius, 
should  go  to  town  and  explain  their  separate  existence. 
No  need  to  disturb  the  author  of  '  Wuthering  Heights/ 
that  crude  work  of  a  'prentice  hand,  over  whose  reproduc- 
tion no  publishers  quarrelled  ;  such  troublesome  honours 
were  not  for  her. 

"  Yet,"  says  Charlotte,  "  I  must  not  be  understood  to 
make  these  things  subject  for  reproach  or  complaint ;  I 
dare  not  do  so ;  respect  for  my  sister's  memory  forbids 
me.  By  her  any  such  querulous  manifestation  would 
have  been  regarded  as  an  unworthy  and  offensive  weak- 

When,  indeed,  did  the  murmur  of  complaint  pass  those 
pale,  inspired  lips  ?  Failure  can  have  come  to  her  with 
no  shock  of  aghast  surprise.  All  her  plans  had  failed ; 
Branwell's  success,  the  school,  her  poems :  her  strong 
will,  had  not  carried  them  on  to  success. 

But  though  it  could  not  bring  success,  it  could  support 
her  against  despair.  When  this  last,  dearest,  strongest 
work  of  hers  was  weighed  in  the  world's  scales  and  found 
wanting,  she  did  not  sigh,  resign  herself,  and  think  the 
battle  over ;  she  would  have  fought  again. 

But  the  battle  was  over,  over  before  victory  was  de- 
clared. No  more  failures,  no  more  strivings  for  that 
brave  spirit.  It  was  in  July  that  Charlotte  and  Anne 
returned  from  London,  in  July  when  the  heather  is  in 
bud  ;  scarce  one  last  withered  spray  was  left  in  Decem- 
ber to  place  on  Emily's  deathbed. 

(    209    ) 



WHILE  '  Wuthering  Heights '  was  still  in  the  reviewer's 
hands,  Emily  Bronte's  more  fortunate  sister  was  busy  on 
another  novel.  This  book  has  never  attained  the  steady 
success  of  her  masterpiece,  *  Villette,'  neither  did  it  meet 
with  the  furor  which  greeted  the  first  appearance  of 
'Jane  Eyre.'  It  is,  indeed,  inferior  to  either  work  ;  a 
very  quiet  study  of  Yorkshire  life,  almost  pettifogging 
in  its  interest  in  ecclesiastical  squabbles,  almost  absurd 
in  the  feminine  inadequacy  of  its  heroes.  And  yet 
'  Shirley '  has  a  grace  and  beauty  of  its  own.  This 
it  derives  from  the  charm  of  its  heroines — Caroline 
Helstone,  a  lovely  portrait  in  character  of  Charlotte's 
dearest  friend,  and  Shirley  herself,  a  fancy  likeness  of 
Emily  Bronte. 

Emily  Bronte,  but  under  very  different  conditions. 
No  longer  poor,  no  longer  thwarted,  no  longer  acquainted 
with  misery  and  menaced  by  untimely  death  ;  not  thus, 
but  as  a  loving  sister  would  fain  have  seen  her,  beautiful, 
triumphant,  the  spoiled  child  of  happy  fortune.  Yet  in 
these  altered  circumstances  Shirley  keeps  her  likeness 
to  Charlotte's  hardworking  sister ;  the  disguise,  haply 
baffling  those  who,  like  Mrs.  Gaskell,  "have  not  a 
pleasant  impression  of  Emily  Bronte,"  is  very  easily 
penetrated  by  those  who  love  her.  Under  the  pathetic 
finery  so  lovingly  bestowed,  under  the  borrowed  splen- 


210  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

dours  of  a  thousand  a  year,  a  lovely  face,  an  ancestral 
manor-house,  we  recognise  our  hardy  and  headstrong 
heroine,  and  smile  a  little  sadly  at  the  inefficiency  of  this 
masquerade  of  grandeur,  so  indifferent  and  unnecessary 
to  her.  We  recognise  Charlotte's  sister ;  but  not  the 
author  of  'Wuthering  Heights.'.  Through  these  years 
we  discern  the  brilliant  heiress  to  be  a  person  of  infinitely 
inferior  importance  to  the  ill-dressed  and  overworked 
Vicar's  daughter.  Imperial  Shirley,  no  need  to  wave 
your  majestic  wand,  we  have  bowed  to  it  long  ago  un- 
blinded  ;  and  all  its  illusive  splendours  are  not  so  potent 
as  that  worn-down  goose-quill  which  you  used  to  wield 
in  the  busy  kitchen  of  your  father's  parsonage. 

Yet  without  that  admirable  portrait  we  should  have 
scant  warrant  for  our  conception  of  Emily  Bronte's 
character.  Her  work  is  singularly  impersonal.  You 
gather  from  it  that  she  loved  the  moors,  that  from  her 
youth  up  the  burden  of  a  tragic  fancy  had  lain  hard 
upon  her ;  that  she  had  seen  the  face  of  sorrow  close, 
meeting  that  Medusa-glance  with  rigid  and  defiant  forti- 
tude. So  much  we  learn  ;  but  this  is  very  little — a  one- 
sided truth  and  therefore  scarcely  a  truth  at  all. 

Charlotte's  portrait  gives  us  another  view,  and  fortu- 
nately there  are  still  a  few  alive  of  the  not  numerous 
friends  of  Emily  Bronte.  Every  trait,  every  reminiscence 
paints  in  darker,  clearer  lines,  the  impression  of  character 
which  '  Shirley  '  leaves  upon  us.  Shirley  is  indeed  the 
exterior  Emily,  the  Emily  that  was  to  be  met  and  known 
thirty-five  years  ago,  only  a  little  polished,  with  the 
angles  a  little  smoothed,  by  a  sister's  anxious  care.  The 
nobler  Emily,  deeply-suffering,  brooding,  pitying,  creat- 
ing, is  only  to  be  found  in  a  stray  word  here  and  there, 
a  chance  memory,  a  happy  answer,  gathered  from  the 
pages  of  her  work,  and  the  loving  remembrance  of  her 

1  SHIRLEY:  2u 

friends ;  but  these  remnants  are  so  direct,  unusual, 
personal,  and  characteristic,  this  outline  is  of  so  decided 
a  type,  that  it  affects  us  more  distinctly  than  many 
stippled  and  varnished  portraits  do. 

But  to  know  how  Emily  Bronte  looked,  moved,  sat 
and  spoke,  we  still  return  to  *  Shirley/  A  host  of 
•corroborating  memories  start  up  in  turning  the  pages. 
Who  but  Emily  was  always  accompanied  by  a  "  rather 
large,  strong,  and  fierce-looking  dog,  very  ugly,  being  of 
a  breed  between  a  mastiff  and  a  bulldog  ? "  it  is  familiar 
to  us  as  Una's  lion ;  we  do  not  need  to  be  told,  Currer 
Bell,  that  she  always  sat  on  the  hearthrug  of  nights, 
with  her  hand  on  his  head,  reading  a  book ;  we  remem- 
ber well  how  necessary  it  was  to  secure  him  as  an  ally  in 
winning  her  affection.  Has  not  a  dear  friend  informed 
us  that  she  first  obtained  Emily's  heart  by  meeting, 
without  apparent  fear  or  shrinking,  Keeper's  huge  springs 
of  demonstrative  welcome  ? 

Certainly  "  Captain  Keeldar,"  with  her  cavalier  airs, 
her  ready  disdain,  her  love  of  independence,  does  bring 
back  with  vivid  brilliance  the  memory  of  our  old  ac- 
quaintance, "the  Major."  We  recognise  that  pallid 
slimness,  masking  an  elastic  strength  which  seems  im- 
penetrable to  fatigue — and  we  sigh,  recalling  a  passage 
in  Anne's  letters,  recording  how,  when  rheumatism, 
coughs,  and  influenza  made  an  hospital  of  Haworth 
Vicarage  during  the  visitations  of  the  dread  east  wind, 
Emily  alone  looked  on  and  wondered  why  anyone 
should  be  ill — "she  considers  it  a  very  uninteresting 
wind ;  it  does  not  affect  her  nervous  system."  We  know 
her,  too,  by  her  kindness  to  her  inferiors.  A  hundred 
little  stories  throng  our  minds.  Unforgotten  delicacies 
made  with  her  own  hands  for  her  servant's  friend,  yet- 
remembered  visits  of  Martha's  little  cousin  to  the  kitchen, 

P  2 

212  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

where  Miss  Emily  would  bring  in  her  own  chair  for  the 
ailing  girl ;  anecdotes  of  her  early  rising  through  many 
years  to  do  the  hardest  work,  because  the  first  servant 
was  too  old,  and  the  second  too  young  to  get  up  so  soon ; 
and  she,  Emily,  was  so  strong.  A  hundred  little  sacri- 
fices, dearer  to  remembrance  than  Shirley's  open  purse, 
awaken  in  our  hearts  and  remind  us  that,  after  all, 
Emily  was  the  nobler  and  more  lovable  heroine  of  the 

How  characteristic,  too,  the  touch  that  makes  her 
scornful  of  all  that  is  dominant,  dogmatic,  avowedly 
masculine  in  the  men  of  her  acquaintance ;  and  gentle- 
ness itself  to  the  poetic  Philip  Nunnely,  the  gay,  boyish 
Mr.  Sweeting,  the  sentimental  Louis,  the  lame,  devoted 
boy-cousin  who  -loves  her  in  pathetic  canine  fashion. 
That  courage,  too,  was  hers.  Not  only  Shirley's  flesh, 
but  Emily's,  felt  the  tearing  fangs  of  the  mad  dog  to 
whom  she  had  charitably  offered  food  and  water ;  not 
only  Shirley's  flesh,  but  hers,  shrank  from  the  light 
scarlet,  glowing  tip  of  the  Italian  iron  with  which  she 
straightway  cauterised  the  wound,  going  quickly  into  the 
laundry  and  operating  on  herself  without  a  word  to  any 

Emily,  also,  singlehanded  and  unarmed,  punished  her 
great  bulldog  for  his  household  misdemeanours,  in  de- 
fiance of  an  express  warning  not  to  strike  the  brute,  lest 
his  uncertain  temper  should  rouse  him  to  fly  at  the 
striker's  throat.  And  it  was  she  who  fomented  his 
bruises.  This  prowess  and  tenderness  of  Shirley's  is  an 
old  story  to  us. 

And  Shirley's  love  of  picturesque  and  splendid  raiment 
is  not  without  an  echo  in  our  memories.  It  was  Emily 
who,  shopping  in  Bradford  with  Charlotte  and  her  friend, 
chose  a  white  stuff  patterned  with  lilac  thunder  and  light- 

'SHIRLEY:  213 

ning,  to  the  scarcely  concealed  horror  of  her  more  sober 
•companions.  And  she  looked  well  in  it ;  a  tall,  lithe 
creature,  with  a  grace  half-queenly,  half-untamed  in  her 
sudden,  supple  movements,  wearing  with  picturesque 
negligence  her  ample  purple-splashed  skirts ;  her  face 
clear  and  pale ;  her  very  dark  and  plenteous  brown  hair 
fastened  up  behind  with  a  Spanish  comb ;  her  large 
grey-hazel  eyes,  now  full  of  indolent,  indulgent  humour, 
now  glimmering  with  hidden  meanings,  now  quickened 
into  flame  by  a  flash  of  indignation,  "  a  red  ray  piercing 
the  dew." 

She,  too,  had  Shirley's  taste  for  the  management  of 
business.  We  remember  Charlotte's  disquiet  when  Emily 
insisted  on  investing  Miss  Branwell's  legacies  in  York 
and  Midland  Railway  shares.  "  She  managed,  in  a  most 
handsome  and  able  manner  for  me  when  I  was  in 
Brussels,  and  prevented  by  distance  from  looking  after 
our  interests,  therefore  I  will  let  her  manage  still  and 
take  the  consequences.  Disinterested  and  energetic  she 
certainly  is ;  and,  if  she  be  not  quite  so  tractable  or  open 
to  conviction  as  I  could  wish,  I  must  remember  perfec- 
tion is  not  the  lot  of  humanity,  and,  as  long  as  we  can 
regard  those  whom  we  love,  and  to  whom  we  are  closely 
allied,  with  profound  and  never-shaken  esteem,  it  is  a 
small  thing  that  they  should  vex  us  occasionally  by  what 
.appear  to  us  headstrong  and  unreasonable  notions."  * 

So  speaks  the  kind  elder  sister,  the  author  of  '  Shirley.' 
But  there  are  some  who  will  never  love  either  type  or 
portrait.  Sydney  Dobell  spoke  a  bitter  half-truth  when, 
ignorant  of  Shirley's  real  identity,  he  declared  :  "We 
have  only  to  imagine  Shirley  Keeldar  poor  to  imagine 
her  repulsive."  The  silenced  pride,  the  thwarted  gene- 
rosity, the  unspoken  power,  the  contained  passion  of 
*  Mrs.  Gaskell. 

2 14  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

such  a  nature  are  not  qualities  which  touch  the  world 
when  it  finds  them  in  an  obscure  and  homely  woman. 
Even  now,  very  many  will  not  love  a  heroine  so  in- 
dependent of  their  esteem.  They  will  resent  the  frank 
imperiousness,  caring  not  to  please,  the  unyielding 
strength,  the  absence  of  trivial  submissive  tendernesses, 
for  which  she  makes  amends  by  such  large  humane  and 
generous  compassion.  "In  Emily's  nature,"  says  her 
sister,  "  the  extremes  of  vigour  and  simplicity  seemed  to> 
meet.  Under  an  unsophisticated  culture,  inartificial  taste 
and  an  unpretending  outside,  lay  a  power  and  fire  that 
might  have  informed  the  brain  and  kindled  the  veins  of 
a  hero;  but  she  had  no  worldly  wisdom — her  powers 
were  unadapted  to  the  practical  business  of  life — she 
would  fail  to  defend  her  most  manifest  rights,  to  consult 
her  legitimate  advantage.  An  interpreter  ought  always 
to  have  stood  between  her  and  the  world.  Her  will  was 
not  very  flexible  and  it  generally  opposed  her  interest. 
Her  temper  was  magnanimous,  but  warm  and  sudden  ;, 
her  spirit  altogether  unbending."  * 

So  speaks  Emily's  inspired  interpreter,  whose  genius 
has  not  made  her  sister  popular.  'Shirley'  is  not  a 
favourite  with  a  modern  public.  Emily  Bronte  was  born 
out  of  date.  Athene,  leading  the  nymphs  in  their  head- 
long chase  down  the  rocky  spurs  of  Olympus,  and  stop- 
ping in  full  career  to  lift  in  her  arms  the  weanlings, 
tender  as  dew,  or  the  chance-hurt  cubs  of  the  moun- 
tain, might  have  chosen  her  as  her  hunt-fellow.  Or 
Brunhilda,  the  strong  Valkyr,  dreading  the  love  of  man,, 
whose  delight  is  battle  and  the  wild  summits  of  hills,, 
forfeiting  her  immortality  to  shield  the  helpless  and  the 
weak ;  she  would  have  recognised  the  kinship  of  this 
last-born  sister.  But  we  moderns  care  not  for  these, 
*  '  Biographical  Notice.'  C.  Bronte. 

' SHIRLEY:  215 

Our  heroines  are  Juliet,  Desdemona  and  Imogen,  our 
examples  Dorothea  Brooke  and  Laura  Pendennis,  women 
whose  charm  is  a  certain  fragrance  of  affection.  '  Shirley' 
is  too  independent  for  our  taste ;  and,  for  the  rest,  we 
are  all  in  love  with  Caroline  Helstone. 

Disinterested,  headstrong,  noble  Emily  Bronte,  at  this 
time,  while  your  magical  sister  was  weaving  for  you, 
with  golden  words,  a  web  of  fate  as  fortunate  as  dreams, 
the  true  Norns  were  spinning  a  paler  shrouding  gar- 
ment. You  were  never  to  see  the  brightest  things  in 
life.  Sisterly  love,  free  solitude,  unpraised  creation,  were 
to  remain  your  most  poignant  joys.  No  touch  of  love, 
no  hint  of  fame,  no  hours  of  ease,  lie  for  you  across  the 
knees  of  Fate.  Neither  rose  nor  laurel  will  be  shed  on 
your  coffined  form.  Meanwhile,  your  sister  writes  and 
dreams  for  Shirley.  Terrible  difference  between  ideas 
and  truth ;  wonderful  magic  of  the  unreal  to  take  their 
sting  from  the  veritable  wounds  we  endure ! 

Neither  rose  nor  laurel  will  we  lay  reverently  for 
remembrance  over  the  tomb  where  you  sleep ;  but  the 
flower  that  was  always  your  own,  the  wild,  dry  heather. 
You,  who  were,  in  your  sister's  phrase,  "moorish,  wild 
and  knotty  as  a  root  of  heath,"  you  grew  to  your  own 
perfection  on  the  waste  where  no  laurel  rustles  its 
polished  leaves,  where  no  sweet,  fragile  rose  ever  opened 
in  the  heart  of  June.  The  storm  and  the  winter  dark- 
ness, the  virgin  earth,  the  blasting  winds  of  March, 
would  have  slain  them  utterly ;  but  all  these  served  to 
make  the  heather  light  and  strong,  to  flush  its  bells  with 
a  ruddier  purple,  to  fill  its  cells  with  honey  more  pun- 
gently  sweet.  The  cold  wind  and  wild  earth  make  the 
heather;  it  would  not  grow  in  the  sheltered  meadows. 
And  you,  had  you  known  the  fate  that  love  would  have 
chosen,  you  too  would  not  have  thrived  in  your  full  bloom. 

2 1 6  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

Another  happy,  prosperous  north-country  matron  would 
be  dead.  But  now  you  live,  still  singing  of  freedom,  the 
undying  soul,  of  courage  and  loneliness,  another  voice 
in  the  wind,  another  glory  on  the  mountain-tops,  Emily 
Bronte,  the  author  of  '  Wuthering  Heights.' 

C     217    ) 


THE  autumn  of  the  year  1848  was  tempestuous  and 
wild,  with  sudden  and  frequent  changes  of  temperature, 
and  cold  penetrating  wind.  Those  chilling  blasts  whirl- 
ing round  the  small  grey  parsonage  on  its  exposed  hill- 
top, brought  sickness  in  their  train.  Anne  and  Charlotte 
drooped  and  languished ;  Branwell,  too,  was  ill.  His 
constitution  seemed  shattered  by  excesses  which  he  had 
not  the  resolution  to  forego.  Often  he  would  sleep  most 
-of  the  day ;  or  at  least  sit  dosing  hour  after  hour  in  a 
lethargy  of  weakness  ;  but  with  the  night  this  apathy 
would  change  to  violence  and  suffering.  "  Papa,  and 
sometimes  all  of  us  have  sad  nights  with  him,"  writes 
Charlotte  in  the  last  days  of  July. 

Yet,  so  well  the  little  household  knew  the  causes  of 
this  reverse,  no  immediate  danger  was  suspected.  He 
was  weak,  certainly,  and  his  appetite  failed  ;  but  opium- 
eaters  are  not  strong  nor  hungry.  Neither  Branwell 
himself,  nor  his  relations,  nor  any  physician  consulted 
in  his  case  thought  it  one  of  immediate  danger ;  it 
seemed  as  if  this  dreary  life  might  go  on  for  ever, 
marking  its  hours  by  a  perpetual  swing  and  rebound  of 
excess  and  suffering. 

During  this  melancholy  autumn  Mr.  Grundy  was 
staying  at  Skipton,  a  town  about  seventeen  miles  from 

2 1 8  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

Haworth.  Mindful  of  his  old  friend,  he  invited  Bran- 
well  to  be  his  guest ;  but  the  dying  youth  was  too  weak 
to  make  even  that  little  journey,  although  he  longed  for 
the  excitement  of  change.  Mr.  Grundy  was  so  much 
moved  by  the  miserable  tone  of  Branwell's  letter  that  he 
drove  over  to  Haworth  to  see  for  himself  what  ailed  his 
old  companion.  He  was  very  shocked  at  the  change. 
Pale,  sunk,  tremulous,  utterly  wrecked  ;  there  was  no 
hope  for  Branwell  now ;  he  had  again  taken  to  eating, 

Anything  for  excitement,  for  a  variation  to  his  inces- 
sant sorrow.  Weak  as  he  was,  and  scarcely  able  to  leave 
his  bed,  he  craved  piteously  for  an  appointment  of  any 
kind,  any  reason  for  leaving  Haworth,  for  getting  quit  of 
his  old  thoughts,  any  post  anywhere  for  Heaven's  sake 
so  it  were  out  of  their  whispering.  He  had  not  long, 
to  wait. 

Later  in  that  cold  and  bleak  September  Mr.  Grundy 
again  visited  Haworth.  He  sent  to  the  Vicarage  for 
Branwell,  and  ordered  dinner  and  a  fire  to  welcome  him  ;. 
the  room  looked  cosy  and  warm.  While  Mr.  Grundy 
sat  waiting  for  his  guest,  the  Vicar  was  shown  in.  He, 
too,  was  strangely  altered ;  much  of  his  old  stiffness  of 
manner  gone  ;  and  it  was  with  genuine  affection  that  he 
spoke  of  Branwell,  and  almost  with  despair  that  he 
touched  on  his  increasing  miseries.  When  Mr.  Grundy's 
message  had  come,  the  poor,  self-distraught  sufferer  had 
been  lying  ill  in  bed,  apparently  too  weak  to  move ;  but 
the  feverish  restlessness  which  marked  his  latter  years 
was  too  strong  to  resist  the  chance  of  excitement.  He 
had  insisted  upon  coming,  so  his  father  said,  and  would 
immediately  be  ready.  Then  the  sorrowful  half-blind 
old  gentleman  made  his  adieus  to  his  son's  host,  and  left 
the  inn. 


"Presently  the  door  opened  cautiously,  and  a  head 
appeared.  It  was  a  mass  of  red,  unkempt,  uncut  hair, 
wildly  floating  round  a  great,  gaunt  forehead  ;  the  cheeks 
yellow  and  hollow,  the  mouth  fallen,  the  thin  white  lips 
not  trembling  but  shaking,  the  sunken  eyes,  once  small,, 
now  glaring  with  the  light  of  madness — all  told  the  sad 
tale  but  too  surely.  I  hastened  to  my  friend,  greeted 
him  in  my  gayest  manner,  as  I  knew  he  best  liked,  drew 
him  quickly  into  the  room,  and  forced  upon  him  a  stiff 
glass  of  hot  brandy.  Under  its  influence  and  that  of 
the  bright,  cheerful  surroundings,  he  looked  frightened — 
frightened  of  himself.  He  glanced  at  me  a  moment, 
and  muttered  something  of  leaving  a  warm  bed  to  come 
out  in  the  cold  night.  Another  glass  of  brandy,  and 
returning  warmth  gradually  brought  him  back  to  some- 
thing like  the  Bronte  of  old.  He  even  ate  some  dinner, 
a  thing  which  he  said  he  had  not  done  for  long ;  so  our 
last  interview  was  pleasant  though  grave.  I  never  knew 
his  intellect  clearer.  He  described  himself  as  waiting 
anxiously  for  death — indeed,  longing  for  it,  and  happy,, 
in  these  his  sane  moments,  to  think  it  was  so  near.  He 
once  again  declared  that  that  death  would  be  due  to  the 
story  I  knew,  and  to  nothing  else. 

"  When  at  last  I  was  compelled  to  leave,  he  quietly 
drew  from  his  coat-sleeve  a  carving-knife,  placed  it  on 
the  table,  and,  holding  me  by  both  hands,  said  that, 
having  given  up  all  hopes  of  ever  seeing  me  again,  he 
imagined  when  my  message  came  that  it  was  a  call  from 
Satan.  Dressing  himself,  he  took  the  knife  which  he  had 
long  secreted,  and  came  to  the  inn,  with  a  full  determi- 
nation to  rush  into  the  room  and  stab  the  occupant.  In 
the  excited  state  of  his  mind,  he  did  not  recognise  me 
when  he  opened  the  door,  but  my  voice  and  manner 
conquered  him,  and  *  brought  him  home  to  himself,'  as 

220  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

he  expressed  it.     I  left  him  standing  bare-headed  in  the 
road  with  bowed  form  and  dropping  tears."  * 

He  went  home,  and  a  few  days  afterwards  he  died. 
That  little  intervening  time  was  happier  and  calmer 
than  any  he  had  known  for  years  ;  his  evil  habits,  his 
hardened  feelings  slipped,  like  a  mask,  from  the  soul 
already  touched  by  the  final  quiet.  He  was  singularly 
altered  and  softened,  gentle  and  loving  to  the  father  and 
sisters  who  had  borne  so  much  at  his  hands.  It  was  as 
though  he  had  awakened  from  the  fierce  delirium  of  a 
fever;  weak  though  he  was  and  shattered,  they  could 
again  recognise  in  him  their  Branwell  of  old  times,  the 
hope  and  promise  of  all  their  early  dreams.  Neither  they 
nor  he  dreamed  that  the  end  was  so  near ;  he  had  often 
talked  of  death,  but  now  that  he  stood  in  the  shadow  ot 
its  wings,  he  was  unconscious  of  that  subduing  presence. 
And  it  is  pleasant  to  think  that  the  sweet  demeanour  of 
his  last  days  was  not  owing  to  the  mere  cowardly  fear  of 
•death ;  but  rather  a  return  of  the  soul  to  its  true  self,  a 
natural  dropping-off  of  all  extraneous  fever  and  error, 
before  the  suffering  of  its  life  should  close.  Half  an 
hour  before  he  died  Branwell  was  unconscious  of  danger  ; 
he  was  out  in  the  village  two  days  before,  and  was  only 
confined  to  bed  one  single  day.  The  next  morning  was 
a  Sunday,  the  twenty-fourth  of  September.  Branwell 
awoke  to  it  perfectly  conscious,  and  through  the  holy 
quiet  of  that  early  morning  he  lay,  troubled  by  neither 
fear  nor  suffering,  while  the  bells  of  the  neighbouring 
church,  the  neighbouring  tower  whose  fabulous  antiquity 
had  furnished  him  with  many  a  boyish  pleasantry,  called 
the  villagers  to  worship,  They  all  knew  him,  all  as  they 
passed  the  house  would  look  up  and  wonder  if  "t* 
Vicar's  Patrick  "  were  better  or  worse.  But  those  of  the 
*  '  Pictures  of  the  Past.' 


Parsonage  were  not  at  church :  they  watched  in  Bran- 
well's  hushed  and  peaceful  chamber. 

Suddenly  a  terrible  change  came  over  the  quiet  face ; 
there  was  no  mistaking  the  sudden,  heart-shaking 
summons.  And  now  Charlotte  sank  ;  always  nervous 
a/id  highly  strung,  the  mere  dread  of  what  might  be  to 
cpme,  laid  her  prostrate.  They  led  her  away,  and  for  a 
week  she  kept  her  bed  in  sickness  and  fever.  But  Bran- 
well,  the  summoned,  the  actual  sufferer,  met  death  with 
a  different  face.  He  insisted  upon  getting  up  ;  if  he  had 
succumbed  to  the  horrors  of  life  he  would  defy  the 
horrors  of  extinction ;  he  would  die  as  he  thought  no 
one  had  ever  died  before,  standing.  So,  like  some  an- 
cient Celtic  hero,  when  the  last  agony  began,  he  rose 
to  his  feet ;  hushed  and  awe-stricken,  the  old  father, 
praying  Anne,  loving  Emily,  looked  on.  He  rose  to  his 
feet  and  died  erect  after  twenty  minutes'  struggle. 

They  found  his  pockets  filled  with  the  letters  of  the 
woman  he  had  so  passionately  loved. 

He  was  dead,  this  Branwell  who  had  wrung  the  hearts 
of  his  household  day  by  day,  who  drank  their  tears  as 
wine.  He  was  dead,  and  now  they  mourned  him  with 
acute  and  bitter  pain.  "All  his  vices  were  and  are 
nothing  now ;  we  remember  only  his  woes,"  writes  Char- 
lotte. They  buried  him  in  the  same  vault  that  had  been 
opened  twenty-three  years  ago  to  receive  the  childish, 
wasted  corpses  of  Elizabeth  and  Maria.  Sunday  came 
round,  recalling  minute  by  minute  the  ebbing  of  his  life, 
and  Emily  Bron,te,  pallid  and  dressed  in  black,  can 
scarcely  have  heard  her  brother's  funeral  sermon  for 
looking  at  the  stone  which  hid  so  many  memories,  such 
useless  compassion.  She  took  her  brother's  death  very 
much  to  heart,  growing  thin  and  pale  and  saying  nothing. 
She  had  made  an  effort  to  go  to  church  that  Sunday,  and 



as  she  sat  there,  quiet  and  hollow-eyed,  perhaps  she  felt 
it  was  well  that  she  had  looked  upon  his  resting-place, 
upon  the  grave  where  so  much  of  her  heart  was  buried. 
For,  after  his  funeral,  she  never  rallied ;  a  cold  and 
cough,  taken  then,  gained  fearful  hold  upon  her,  and 
she  never  went  out  of  doors  after  that  memorable 

But  looking  on  her  quiet,  uncomplaining  eyes,  you 
would  not  have  guessed  so  much. 

"  Emily  and  Anne  are  pretty  well,"  says  Charlotte,  on 
the  ninth  of  October,  "  though  Anne  is  always  delicate 
and  Emily  has  a  cold  and  cough  at  present" 


ALREADY  by  the  2Qth  of  October  of  this  melancholy 
year  of  1848  Emily's  cough  and  cold  had  made  such 
progress  as  to  alarm  her  careful  elder  sister.  Before 
Bran-well's  death  she  had  been,  to  all  appearance,  the 
one  strong  member  of  a  delicate  family.  By  the  side 
of  fragile  Anne  (already,  did  they  but  know  it,  advanced 
in  tubercular  consumption),  of  shattered  Branwell,  of 
Charlotte,  ever  nervous  and  ailing,  this  tall,  muscular 
Emily  had  appeared  a  tower  of  strength.  Working 
early  and  late,  seldom  tired  and  never  complaining, 
finding  her  best  relaxation  in  long,  rough  walks  on  the 
moors,  she  seemed  unlikely  to  give  them  any  poignant 
anxiety.  But  the  seeds  of  phthisis  lay  deep  down 
beneath  this  fair  show  of  life  and  strength ;  the  shock 
of  sorrow  which  she  experienced  for  her  brother's  death 
developed  them  with  alarming  rapidity. 

The  weariness  of  absence  had  always  proved  too  much 
for  Emily's  strength.  Away  from  home  we  have  seen 
how  she  pined  and  sickened.  Exile  made  her  thin  and 
wan,  menaced  the  very  springs  of  life.  And  now  she 
must  endure  an  inevitable  and  unending  absence,  an 
exile  from  which  there  could  be  no  return.  The  strain 
was  too  tight,  the  wrench  too  sharp:  Emily  could  not 
bear  it  and  live.  In  such  a  loss  as  hers,  bereaved  of  a 
helpless  sufferer,  the  mourning  of  those  who  remain  is 


embittered  and  quickened  a  hundred  times  a  day  wheu 
the  blank  minutes  come  round  for  which  the  customary 
duties  are  missing,  when  the  unwelcome  leisure  hangs 
round  the  weary  soul  like  a  shapeless  and  encumbering 
garment.  It  was  Emily  who  had  chiefly  devoted  her- 
self to  Branwell.  He  being  dead,  the  motive  of  her  life 
seemed  gone. 

Had  she  been  stronger,  had  she  been  more  careful  of 
herself  at  the  beginning  of  her  illness,  she  would  doubt- 
less have  recovered,  and  we  shall  never  know  the  differ- 
ence in  our  literature  which  a  little  precaution  might 
have  made.  But  Emily  was  accustomed  to  consider 
herself  hardy  ;  she  was  so  used  to  wait  upon  others  that 
to  lie  down  and  be  waited  on  would  have  appeared  to 
her  ignominious  and  absurd.  Both  her  independence 
and  her  unselfishness  made  her  very  chary  of  giving 
trouble.  It  is,  moreover,  extremely  probable  that  she 
never  realised  the  extent  of  her  own  illness  ;  consump- 
tion is  seldom  a  malady  that  despairs  ;  attacking  the 
body  it  leaves  the  spirit  free,  the  spirit  which  cannot 
realise  a  danger  by  which  it  is  not  injured.  A  little 
later  on  when  it  was  Anne's  turn  to  suffer,  she  is 
choosing  her  spring  bonnet  four  days  before  her  death. 
Which  of  us  does  not  remember  some  such  pathetic 
tale  of  the  heart-wringing,  vain  confidence  of  those  far 
gone  in  phthisis,  who  bear  on  their  faces  the  marks  of 
death  for  all  eyes  but  their  own  to  read  ? 

To  those  who  look  on,  there  is  no  worse  agony  than  to 
watch  the  brave  bearing  of  these  others  unconscious  of 
the  sudden  grave  at  their  feet.  Charlotte  and  Anne 
looked  on  and  trembled.  On  the  29th  of  October, 
Charlotte,  still  delicate  from  the  bilious  fever  which 
had  prostrated  her  on  the  day  of  Branwell's  death, 
writes  these  words  already  full  of  foreboding : 

EMIL  Y'S  DEA  TH.  225 

"  I  feel  much  more  uneasy  about  my  sister  than  my- 
self just  now.  Emily's  cold  and  cough  are  very  obsti- 
nate. I  fear  she  has  pain  in  her  chest,  and  I  sometimes 
:atch  a  shortness  in  her  breathing  when  she  has  moved 
at  all  quickly.  She  looks  very  thin  and  pale.  Her 
reserved  nature  occasions  me  great  uneasiness  of  mind. 
It  is  useless  to  question  her ;  you  get  no  answer.  It  is 
still  more  useless  to  recommend  remedies  ;  they  are  never 

It  was,  in  fact,  an  acute  inflammation  of  the  lungs 
which  this  unfortunate  sufferer  was  trying  to  subdue  by 
force  of  courage.  To  persons  of  strong  will  it  is  difficult 
to  realise  that  their  disease  is  not  in  their  own  control. 
To  be  ill,  is  with  them  an  act  of  acquiescence  ;  they  have 
consented  to  the  demands  of  their  feeble  body.  When 
necessity  demands  the  sacrifice,  it  seems  to  them  so  easy 
to  deny  themselves  the  rest,  the  indulgence.  They  set 
their  will  against  their  weakness  and  mean  to  conquer. 
They  will  not  give  up. 

Emily  would  not  give  up.  She  felt  herself  doubly 
necessary  to  the  household  in  this  hour  of  trial.  Char- 
lotte was  still  very  weak  and  ailing.  Anne,  her  dear 
little  sister,  was  unusually  delicate  and  frail.  Even  her 
father  had  not  quite  escaped.  That  she,  Emily,  who  had 
always  been  relied  upon  for  strength  and  courage  and 
endurance,  should  show  herself  unworthy  of  the  trust 
when  she  was  most  sorely  needed ;  that  she,  so  inclined 
to  take  all  duties  on  herself,  so  necessary  to  the  daily 
management  of  the  house,  should  throw  up  her  charge 
in  this  moment  of  trial,  cast  away  her  arms  in  the 
moment  of  battle,  and  give  her  fellow-sufferers  the  extra 
burden  of  her  weakness  ;  such  a  thing  was  impossible  to 

*  Mrs,  ^skell. 



So  the  vain  struggle  went  on.  She  would  resign  no 
one  of  her  duties,  and  it  was  not  till  within  the  last 
weeks  of  her  life  that  she  would  so  much  as  suffer  the 
servant  to  rise  before  her  in  the  morning  and  take  the 
early  work.  She  would  not  endure  to  hear  of  remedies  ; 
declaring  that  she  was  not  ill,  that  she  would  soon  be 
well,  in  the  pathetic  self-delusion  of  high-spirited  weak- 
ness. And  Charlotte  and  Anne,  for  whose  sake  she 
made  this  sacrifice,  suffered  terribly  thereby.  Willingly, 
thankfully  would  they  have  taken  all  her  duties  upon 
them ;  they  burned  to  be  up  and  doing.  But — seeing 
how  weak  she  was — they  dare  not  cross  her ;  they  had 
to  sit  still  and  endure  to  see  her  labour  for  their  comfort 
with  faltering  and  death-cold  hands. 

"  Day  by  day,"  says  Charlotte,  "  day  by  day  when  I 
saw  with  what  a  front  she  met  suffering,  I  looked  on  her 
with  a  wonder  of  anguish  and  love.  I  have  seen  nothing 
like  it ;  but,  indeed,  I  have  never  seen  her  parallel  in 
anything.  Stronger  than  a  man,  simpler  than  a  child, 
her  nature  stood  alone.  The  awful  point  was  that,  while 
full  of  ruth  for  others,  on  herself  she  had  no  pity ;  the 
spirit  was  inexorable  to  the  flesh  ;  from  the  trembling 
hand,  the  unnerved  limbs,  the  fading  eyes,  the  same 
service  was  exacted  as  they  had  rendered  in  health.  To 
stand  by  and  witness  this,  and  not  dare  to  remonstrate, 
was  a  pain  no  words  can  render." 

The  time  went  on.  Anxious  to  try  what  influence 
some  friend,  not  of  their  own  household,  might  exert 
upon  this  wayward  sister,  Charlotte  thought  of  inviting 
Miss  Nussey  to  Haworth.  Emily  had  ever  been  glad  to 
welcome  her.  But  when  the  time  came  it  was  found 
that  the  least  disturbance  of  the  day's  routine  would  only 
make  Emily's  burden  heavier.  And  that  scheme,  too, 
was  relinquished. 

EMIL  Y'S  DEA  TH.  227 

Another  month  had  gone.  Emily,  paler  and  thinner, 
but  none  less  resolute,  fulfilled  her  duties  with  customary 
exactness,  and  insisted  on  her  perfect  health  with  de- 
fiant fortitude.  On  the  23rd  of  November,  Charlotte 
writes  again  : — 

"  I  told  you  Emily  was  ill  in  my  last  letter.  She  has 
not  rallied  yet.  She  is  very  ill.  I  believe  if  you  were  to 
see  her  your  impression  would  be  that  there  is  no  hope. 
A  more  hollow,  wasted,  pallid  aspect  I  have  not  beheld. 
The  deep,  tight  cough  continues  ;  the  breathing  after  the 
least  exertion  is  a  rapid  pant ;  and  these  symptoms  are 
accompanied  by  pains  in  the  chest  and  side.  Her  pulse, 
the  only  time  she  allowed  it  to  be  felt,  was  found  to  beat 
115  per  minute.  In  this  state  she  resolutely  refuses  to 
see  a  doctor ;  she  will  give  no  explanation  of  her  feel- 
ings ;  she  will  scarcely  allow  her  feelings  to  be  alluded 

"  No  poisoning  doctor  "  should  come  near  her,  Emily 
declared  with  the  irritability  of  her  disease.  It  was  an 
insult  to  her  will,  her  resolute  endeavours.  She  was  not, 
would  not,  be  ill,  and  could  therefore  need  no  cure. 
Perhaps  she  felt,  deep  in  her  heart,  the  conviction  that 
her  complaint  was  mortal ;  that  a  delay  in  the  sentence 
was  all  that  care  and  skill  could  give ;  for  she  had  seen 
Maria  and  Elizabeth  fade  and  die,  and  only  lately  the 
physicians  had  not  saved  her  brother. 

But  Charlotte,  naturally,  did  not  feel  the  same.  Un- 
known to  Emily,  she  wrote  to  a  great  London  doctor 
drawing  up  a  statement  of  the  case  and  symptoms  as 
minute  and  careful  as  she  could  give.  But  either  this 
diagnosis  by  guesswork  was  too  imperfect,  or  the  physi- 
cian saw  that  there  was  no  hope ;  for  his  opinion  was 
expressed  too  obscurely  to  be  of  any  use.  He  sent  a 
bottle  of  medicine,  but  Emily  would  not  take  it. 

228  EMILY  Bl 

December  came,  and  still  the  wondering,  anxious  sisters 
knew  not  what  to  think.  By  this  time  Mr.  Bronte  also 
had  perceived  the  danger  of  Emily's  state,  and  he  was 
very  anxious.  Yet  she  still  denied  that  she  was  ill  with 
anything  more  grave  than  a  passing  weakness  ;  and  the 
pain  in  her  side  and  chest  appeared  to  diminish.  Some- 
times the  little  household  was  tempted  to  take  her  at  her 
word,  and  believe  that  soon,  with  the  spring,  she  would 
recover ;  and  then,  hearing  her  cough,  listening  to  the 
gasping  breath  with  which  she  climbed  the  short  stair- 
case, looking  on  the  extreme  emaciation  of  her  form,  the 
wasted  hands,  the  hollow  eyes,  their  hearts  would  sud- 
denly fail.  Life  was  a  daily  contradiction  of  hope  and 

The  days  drew  on  towards  Christmas ;  it  was  already 
the  middle  of  December,  and  still  Emily  was  about  the 
house,  able  to  wait  upon  herself,  to  sew  for  the  others,  to 
take  an  active  share  in  the  duties  of  the  day.  She  always 
fed  the  dogs  herself.  One  Monday  evening,  it  must  have 
been  about  the  I4th  of  December,  she  rose  as  usual  to  give 
the  creatures  their  supper.  She  got  up,  walking  slowly, 
holding  out  in  her  thin  hands  an  apronful  of  broken 
meat  and  bread.  But  when  she  reached  the  flagged  pas- 
sage the  cold  took  her;  she  staggered  on  the  uneven 
pavement  and  fell  against  the  wall.  Her  sisters,  who 
had  been  sadly  following  her,  unseen,  came  forwards 
much  alarmed  and  begged  her  to  desist ;  but,  smiling 
wanly,  she  went  on  and  gave  Floss  and  Keeper  their  last 
supper  from  her  hands. 

The  next  morning  she  was  worse.  Before  her  waking, 
her  watching  sisters  heard  the  low,  unconscious  moaning 
that  tells  of  suffering  continued  even  in  sleep ;  and  they 
feared  for  what  the  coming  year  might  hold  in  store. 
Of  the  nearness  of  the  end  they  did  not  dream.  Char- 

EMIL  Y'S  DEA  TH.  229 

lotte  had  been  out  over  the  moors,  searching  every  glen 
and  hollow  for  a  sprig  of  heather,  however  pale  and  dry, 
to  take  to  her  moor-loving  sister.  But  Emily  looked  on 
the  flower  laid  on  her  pillow  with  indifferent  eyes.  She 
was  already  estranged  and  alienate  from  life. 

Nevertheless  she  persisted  in  rising,  dressing  herself 
alone,  and  doing  everything  for  herself.  A  fire  had  been 
lit  in  the  room,  and  Emily  sat  on  the  hearth  to  comb  her 
hair.  She  was  thinner  than  ever  now — the  tall,  loose- 
jointed  "slinky"  girl — her  hair  in  its  plenteous  dark 
abundance  was  all  of  her  that  was  not  marked  by  the 
branding  finger  of  death.  She  sat  on  the  hearth  comb- 
ing her  long  brown  hair.  But  soon  the  comb  slipped 
from  her  feeble  grasp  into  the  cinders.  She,  the  intrepid, 
active  Emily,  watched  it  burn  and  smoulder,  too  weak  to 
lift  it,  while  the  nauseous,  hateful  odour  of  burnt  bone 
rose  into  her  face.  At  last  the  servant  came  in : 
"  Martha,"  she  said,  "  my  comb's  down  there  ;  I  was  too 
weak  to  stoop  and  pick  it  up." 

I  have  seen  that  old,  broken  comb,  with  a  large  piece 
burned  out  of  it;  and  have  thought  it,  I  own,  more 
pathetic  than  the  bones  of  the  eleven  thousand  virgins  at 
Cologne,  or  the  time-blackened  Holy  Face  of  Lucca. 
Sad,  chance  confession  of  human  weakness  ;  mournful 
counterpart  of  that  chainless  soul  which  to  the  end  main- 
tained its  fortitude  and  rebellion.  The  flesh  is  weak. 
Since  I  saw  that  relic,  the  strenuous  verse  of  Emily 
Bronte's  last  poem  has  seemed  to  me  far  more  heroic,  far 
more  moving  ;  remembering  in  what  clinging  and  prison- 
ing garments  that  free  spirit  was  confined. 

The  flesh  was  weak,  but  Emily  would  grant  it  no 
indulgence.  She  finished  her  dressing,  and  came  very 
slowly,  with  dizzy  head  and  tottering  steps,  downstairs 
into  the  little  bare  parlour  where  Anne  was  working  and 

230  EMIL  Y  BRONTE. 

Charlotte  writing  a  letter.  Emily  took  up  some  work 
and  tried  to  sew.  Her  catching  breath,  her  drawn  and 
altered  face  were  ominous  of  the  end.  But  still  a  little 
hope  flickered  in  those  sisterly  hearts.  "  She  grows  daily 
weaker,"  wrote  Charlotte,  on  that  memorable  Tuesday 
morning ;  seeing  surely  no  portent  that  this — this  !  was 
to  be  the  last  of  the  days  and  the  hours  of  her  weakness. 

The  morning  drew  on  to  noon,  and  Emily  grew  worse. 
She  could  no  longer  speak,  but — gasping  in  a  husky 
whisper — she  said  :  "  If  you  will  send  for  a  doctor.  I  will 
see  him  now !  "  Alas,  it  was  too  late.  The  shortness  of 
breath  and  rending  pain  increased ;  even  Emily  could 
no  longer  conceal  them.  Towards  two  o'clock  her  sisters 
begged  her,  in  an  agony,  to  let  them  put  her  to  bed. 
"  No,  no,"  she  cried ;  tormented  with  the  feverish  rest- 
lessness that  comes  before  the  last,  most  quiet  peace. 
She  tried  to  rise,  leaning  with  one  hand  upon  the  sofa. 
And  thus  the  chord  of  life  snapped.  She  was  dead. 

She  was  twenty-nine  years  old. 

They  buried  her,  a  few  days  after,  under  the  church 
pavement ;  under  the  slab  of  stone  where  their  mother 
lay,  and  Maria  and  Elizabeth  and  Branwell. 

She  who  had  so  mourned  her  brother  had  verily  found 
him  again,  and  should  sleep  well  at  his  side. 

<pl\T]  /tier'  avrov  Kfi<,  </uAoi'  yweVo. 

And  though  no  wind  ever  rustles  over  the  grave  on 
which  no  scented  heather  springs,  nor  any  bilberry  bears 
its  sprigs  of  greenest  leaves  and  purple  fruit,  she  will  not 
miss  them  now;  she  who  wondered  how  any  could 
imagine  unquiet  slumbers  for  them  that  sleep  in  the 
quiet  earth. 

They  followed  her  to  her  grave — her  old  father,  Char- 
lotte, the  dying  Anne  ;  and  as  they  left  the  doors,  they 

EMIL  VS  DEA  TH.  231 

were  joined  by  another  mourner,  Keeper,  Emily's  dog. 
He  walked  in  front  of  all,  first  in  the  rank  of  mourners  ; 
and  perhaps  no  other  creature  had  known  the  dead 
woman  quite  so  well.  When  they  had  lain  her  to  sleep 
in  the  dark,  airless  vault  under  the  church,  and  when 
they  had  crossed  the  bleak  churchyard,  and  had  entered 
the  empty  house  again,  Keeper  went  straight  to  the  door 
of  the  room  where  his  mistress  used  to  sleep,  and  lay 
down  across  the  threshold.  There  he  howled  piteously 
for  many  days  ;  knowing  not  that  no  lamentations  could 
wake  her  any  more.  Over  the  little  parlour  below  a 
great  calm  had  settled.  "  Why  should  we  be  otherwise 
than  calm,"  says  Charlotte,  writing  to  her  friend  on  the 
2 1st  of  December.  "The  anguish  of  seeing  her  suffer  is 
over ;  the  spectacle  of  the  pains  of  death  is  gone  by  ;  the 
funeral  day  is  past.  We  feel  she  is  at  peace.  No  need 
now  to  tremble  for  the  hard  frost  and  the  keen  wind. 
Emily  does  not  feel  them." 

The  death  was  over,  indeed,  and  the  funeral  day  was 
past ;  yet  one  duty  remained  to  the  heart-wrung  mourners, 
not  less  poignant  than  the  sight  of  the  dead  changed 
face,  not  less  crushing  than  the  thud  of  stones  and  clods 
on  the  coffin  of  one  beloved.  They  took  the  great  brown 
desk  in  which  she  used  to  keep  her  papers,  and  sorted 
and  put  in  order  all  that  they  found  in  it.  How  appeal- 
ing the  sight  of  that  hurried,  casual  writing  of  a  hand 
now  stark  in  death !  How  precious  each  of  those  pages 
whose  like  should  never  be  made  again  till  the  downfall 
of  the  earth  in  the  end  of  time  !  How  near,  how  utterly 
cut-off,  the  Past ! 

They  found  no  novel,  half-finished  or  begun,  in  the  old 
brown  desk  which  she  used  to  rest  on  her  knees,  sitting 
under  the  thorns.  But  they  discovered  a  poem,  written 
at  the  end  of  Emily's  life,  profound,  sincere,  as  befits  the 




last  words  one  has  time  to  speak.  It  is  the  most  perfect 
and  expressive  of  her  work  :  the  fittest  monument  to  her 
heroic  spirit. 

Thus  run  the  last  lines  she  ever  traced : 

"  No  coward  soul  is  mine, 
No  trembler  in  the  world's  storm-troubled  sphere  ; 

I  see  heaven's  glories  shine, 
And  faith  shines  equal,  arming  me  from  fear. 

"  O  God,  within  my  breast, 
Almighty,  ever-present  Deity  ! 

Life,  that  in  me  has  rest, 
As  I — undying  life — have  power  in  Thee. 

"  Vain  are  the  thousand  creeds 
That  move  men's  hearts  :  unutterably  vain  ; 

Worthless  as  withered  weeds, 
Or  idlest  froth  amid  the  boundless  main, 

"  To  waken  doubt  in  one 
Holding  so  fast  by  thine  infinity  ; 

So  surely  anchored  on 
The  steadfast  rock  of  immortality. 

"  With  wide-embracing  love 
Thy  spirit  animates  eternal  years, 

Pervades  and  broods  above, 
Changes,  sustains,  dissolves,  creates,  and  rears. 

"  Though  earth  and  man  were  gone, 
And  suns  and  universes  ceased  to  be, 

And  Thou  wert  left  alone, 
Every  existence  would  exist  in  Thee. 

"  There  is  not  room  for  Death, 
No  atom  that  his  might  could  render  void  ; 

Thou — Thou  art  Being,  Breath, 
And  what  Thou  art  may  never  be  destroyed.1 



"  SHE  died  in  a  time  of  promise." 

So  writes  Charlotte,  in  the  first  flush  of  her  grief.  "  She 
died  in  a  time  of  promise ; "  having  done  much,  indeed, 
having  done  enough  to  bring  her  powers  to  ripe  perfec- 
tion. And  the  fruit  of  that  perfection  is  denied  us.  She 
died,  between  the  finishing  of  labour  and  the  award  of 
praise.  Before  the  least  hint  of  the  immortality  that  has 
been  awarded  her  could  reach  her  in  her  obscure  and 
distant  home.  Without  one  success  in  all  her  life,  with 
her  school  never  kept,  her  verses  never  read,  her  novel 
never  praised,  her  brother  dead  in  ruin.  All  her  ambitions 
had  flagged  and  died  of  the  blight  But  she  was  still 
young,  ready  to  live,  eager  to  try  again. 

"  She  died  in  a  time  of  promise.  We  saw  her  taken 
from  life  in  its  prime." 

Truly  a  prime  of  sorrow,  the  dark  mid-hour  of  the 
storm,  dark  with  the  grief  gone  by  and  the  blackness  of 
the  on-coming  grief.  With  Branwell  dead,  with  her 
dearest  sister  dying,  Emily  died.  Had  she  lived,  what 
profit  could  she  have  made  of  her  life  ?  For  us,  indeed, 
it  would  have  been  well ;  but  for  her  ?  Fame  in  solitude 
is  bitter  food  ;  and  Anne  will  die  in  May  ;  and  Charlotte 
six  years  after  ;  and  Emily  never  could  make  new  friends. 
Better  far  for  her,  that  loving,  faithful  spirit,  to  die  while 
still  her  life  was  dear,  while  still  there  was  hope  in  the 
world,  than  to  linger  on  a  few  years  longer,  in  loneliness 


J34  EMIL  Y  BRON  TE. 

and  weakness,  to  quit  in  fame  and  misery  a  disillusioned 

"  She  died  in  a  time  of  promise.  We  saw  her  taken 
from  life  in  its  prime.  But  it  is  God's  will,  and  the 
place  where  she  is  gone  is  better  than  that  she  has 

Truly  better,  to  leave  her  soul  to  speak  in  the  world 
for  aye,  for  the  wind  to  be  stronger  for  her  breath,  and 
the  heather  more  purple  from  her  heart ;  better  far  to  be 
lost  in  the  all-embracing,  all-transmuting  process  of  life, 
than  to  live  in  cramped  and  individual  pain.  So  at  least, 
wrong  or  right,  thought  this  woman  who  loved  the  earth 
so  well.  She  was  not  afraid  to  die.  The  thought  of 
death  filled  her  with  no  perplexities  ;  but  with  assured  and 
happy  calm.  She  held  it  more  glorious  than  fame,  and 
sweeter  than  love,  to  give  her  soul  to  God  and  her  body 
to  the  earth.  And  which  of  us  shall  carp  at  the  belief 
which  made  a  very  painful  life  contented  ? 

"  The  thing  that  irks  me  most  is  this  shattered  prison, 
after  all.  I'm  tired  of  being  enclosed  here.  I'm  weary- 
ing to  escape  into  that  glorious  world,  and  to  be  always 
there ;  not  seeing  it  dimly  through  tears,  and  yearning 
for  it  through  the  walls  of  an  aching  heart ;  but  really 
with  it  and  in  it.  You  think  you  are  better  and  more 
fortunate  than  I,  in  full  health  and  strength  ;  you  are 
sorry  for  me — very  soon  that  will  be  altered.  I  shall  be 
sorry  for  you.  I  shall  be  incomparably  above  and 
beyond  you  all."  * 

Ah,  yes  ;  incomparably  above  and  beyond.  Not  only 
because  of  the  keen  vision  with  which  she  has  revealed 
the  glorious  world  in  which  her  memory  is  fresher  wind, 
and  brighter  sunshine,  not  only  for  that ;  but  because 
the  remembrance  of  her  living  self  is  a  most  high  and 
*  'Wuthering  Heights.' 

FINIS  f  235 

noble  precept.  Never  before  were  hands  so  inspired  alike 
for  daily  drudgery  and  for  golden  writing  never  to  fade. 
Never  was  any  heart  more  honourable  and  strong,  nor 
any  more  pitiful  to  shameful  weakness.  Seldom,  in- 
deed, has  any  man,  more  seldom  still  any  woman,  owned 
the  inestimable  gift  of  genius  and  never  once  made  it  an 
excuse  for  a  weakness,  a  violence,  a  failing,  which  in 
other  mortals  we  condemn.  No  deed  of  hers  requires 
such  apology.  Therefore,  being  dead  she  persuades  us 
to  honour  ;  and  not  only  her  works  but  the  memory  of 
her  life  shall  rise  up  and  praise  her,  who  lived  without 
praise  so  well. 


PBINTBD  BY  W.  H.  ALLEN  AND  CO.,  13  WATERLOO  PLACfi.     M.W. 

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Edited  by  JOHN  H.  INGRAM. 

The  following  Volumes  are  now  ready : — 













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